Basement Beat: Remember Frank Doezema Jr. too
This week, we published a story by staff writer Virginia Ransbottom on the great “Faces Never Forgotten” campaign. If you haven’t spotted it yet, read it here or I encourage you to go pick up a copy of the paper.
The folks with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund are encouraging the public to check out The Wall of Faces and send in information and pictures about the 58,300 men and women who served and died in the Vietnam War.
After spotting it in the paper, Scott Kuykendall with the Allegan County Historical Society wanted to remind folks about U.S. Army Specialist E4 Frank Doezema Jr.
The Kalamazoo Christian grad whose family farmed in Allegan County wasn’t in our list of veterans who listed their home county as Allegan, but it sounds like he has strong ties to the area.
Kuykendall said Doezema is among the county’s most decorated soldiers.
He told Ms. Ransbottom today that Doezema died in Vietnam saving his men from being attacked at a compound now named in his honor. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, and Bronze Star. He is buried at East Martin Cemetery.
Ms. Ransbottom found the U.S. Army’s order granting his Distinguished Service Cross online.
It says he earned it Jan. 31, 1968, in the city of Hue, where “insurgents unleashed an intense barrage of rocket, mortor and automatic weapons fire on the installation during the early morning hours...”
It says Doezema manned a machine gun in a defensive tower despite the hail of bullets, using his vantage point to tell his comrades where to fire on enemy positions.
The first of two rockets struck the tower and wounded him; he persevered despite his injuries. A second rocket claimed his life.
“His fearless and gallant actions in close combat accounted for at least 18 enemy killed and were responsible for the successful defense of the compound,” the order states.
The order is dated April 1, 1968.
The Wall of Faces is designed specifically to share these kinds of stories and information—and, at the very least, connect pictures of the servicemen and servicewomen with their names.
We focused on those whose home county was listed as Allegan; I’m sure there are many soldiers like specialist Doezema who have strong ties to the county but happened to live outside it when they enlisted.
My staff and I encourage you to search all over the site—not just looking for the Allegan County folks—and contribute anything you can. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind monetary donations as well. It sounds like a pretty big undertaking.
Kuykendall, thanks for reminding us of Specialist Doezema. He's someone else to keep in mind in a couple weeks when we commemorate Veterans Day.