Monday is Memorial Day, and this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, seems like a good time to remember New Jerseyans who died in the conflict.
The National Archives is the custodian of details about those who were killed; the data originates with the Defense Casualty Analysis System. It includes information about 1,487 New Jerseyans who died in Southeast Asia between 1960 and 1975. (This information is also available online via an interactive database.
The United States’ involvement in the Vietnam conflict began with small numbers of advisers and military seeking to defend South Vietnam from attacks from the communist-controlled North. It escalated in 1964 with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution following an attack by North Vietnamese on a U.S. warship. Eventually, more than a half-million soldiers were deployed. The war, and the draft that helped provide enough troops to fight it, was unpopular at home. American troop withdrawals began in 1969, but fighting continued. In April 1975, the fall of Saigon marked the end of the war.
The Defense Casualty Analysis files contain the names of 58,220 U.S. military personnel who died in the war, beginning in June 1956. Almost 3 percent of those who died were from New Jersey. They give a picture of the young men and one woman — Eleanor Grace Alexander, a 27-year-old Army nurse from River Vale, one of only eight women listed as killed in Vietnam — who died:
New Jerseyans who died in the Vietnam War.
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Source: National Archives
* The remains of about 3 percent of the dead were never recovered.
New Jersey has a memorial dedicated to the state’s Vietnam veterans in Holmdel. There will be a memorial service there on Monday at 11 a.m.