“Vietnam: They Served With Honor”: The Times and Democrat’s 25-part series comes to end today with a recap of those profiled and the memorable stories they told.
The series, which began in August, has opened eyes among T&D journalists and readers about the war. Many veterans came forward wanting to tell their stories. Some told them. Some changed their minds. Others waited to make contact. The series leaves some stories untold.
On this Veterans Day, we call attention to the stories of two Vietnam War veterans who cannot offer their own accounts. One is a soldier who, like a growing number of Vietnam veterans, is suffering from health problems brought on by the war experience and aging. The other is the story of a local soldier who did not return from the war.
• Sherdrick Floyd had already served 16 months in combat in Korea from 1951-53 before his service in Vietnam, where he did three combat tours from 1967-72.
The North man was a corporal and squad leader who saw much combat, including during the Tet Offensive. He earned the Purple Heart among numerous service medals. He recovered from wounds that included having both legs broken.
Today he is under the care of his sister, Estelle Culler, who says Floyd’s stories are lost to his battle with another enemy, Alzheimer’s disease. She said his service of 23 years, two months and eight days is to be recognized.
• Richard "Dickie" Kapp Jr. was a standout student at Orangeburg High School in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to graduate from Clemson and decided to forego Law School at the University of South Carolina. Kapp enlisted in the Marine Corps.
As a second lieutenant, he went to Vietnam in 1968. The company of which he was given command saw continuous fighting for a six-week period.
During an all-day battle, the company's radio operator was wounded. After he was pulled to safety, Kapp led the assault to regain the radio. Fighting his way toward it in the bloody battle, he was shot in the head and killed.
When the news of Kapp's death reached Orangeburg, the town mourned. A T&D story led with, "One of Orangeburg's finest sons has been killed in Vietnam.”
He is buried in Sunnyside Cemetery, a man to be remembered along with the 34 other Orangeburg County servicemen who died in the Vietnam War.
The others are: Anderson H. Key, Freddie L. Robinson, Robert Pendarvis, James W. Sanford, John W. Lucas, Edward L. Williamson, Thomas Grant, Hugh W. Willard, Douglas M. Bacot, Kenneth B. Jenkins, Thermall Thompson, Joe E. Grayson, Homer L. Gleaton, Willie C. Dozier, Arnold Sanford, James T. Smoak Jr., David W. Dash, Leroy Hunter, Wesley L. Phillips and William R. Baldwin, all of Orangeburg; Robert M. Craig, George B. Dukes and Curtis Bowman, all of Branchville; Shuler A. Hoffman of Springfield; Charles H. Dyches of Norway; Woodrow Davis Jr. and Harry J. Edwards, both of Holly Hill; Robert Sellers and George Johnson, both of Santee; William Saylor Jr. of North; Henry D. West III of Bowman; Donald L. Brickle of Cope, and Jessie J. Tyler of Neeses.
From Bamberg and Calhoun counties, those who lost their lives in the war are: Ivars Lama, Jerry M. Still and Carter A. Howell, all of Bamberg; Jerry L. Miller of Midway, Willie J. Perkins of Denmark; William J. Caldwell and Tedd M. Lewis, both of St. Matthews, and James E. Starks of Cameron.
Today we salute all who served and we join Orangeburg County in a special salute to Vietnam-era veterans, many of whom tell stories that seem unthinkable now about returning from war to a nation that did not greet them as heroes as it had the World War II and Korea veterans before them and the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans since.