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|Cpl. James Conrad Marshall
MEGA History Page
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Virtual Wall Tribute
In Memory Of Cpl Marshall
29 July 1946 - 31 January 1968
Panel 36E Line 024
PERSONAL DATA Home of Record: Monroeville, Alabama
Date of birth: Monday, 07/29/1946
MILITARY DATA Service: Marine Corps (Regular) Grade at loss: E4
Rank: Corporal ID No: 2091116 MOS: 3051 WAREHOUSE CLERK
LenSvc: Between 3 and 4 years
Unit: AMERICAN EMBASSY, SAIGON
CASUALTY DATA Start Tour: Not recorded Cas Date: Wednesday, 01/31/1968
Age at Loss: 21 Remains: Body Recovered Location: Gia Dinh, South Vietnam
Submitted by: Steve Stacey - Monroeville, Ala.
A Marine Remembered As the American airlift in Saigon came to an end at 7:52 A.M. [8:52 P.M., Tuesday, April 29, 1974, Monroeville Time]
Vietcong gunners attacked Tan Son Nhut air base and the last Americans were flown out of Saigon. They were the last of the marines who had guarded the evacuation operation. Days later, a bronze plaque ripped from the U.S. Embassy wall was taken by the conquering communists. Inscribed upon the plaque were the names of four U.S. Army Military Policemen and one U.S. Marine who were killed defending the U.S. Embassy at Saigon during the TET holiday communist offensive in January 1968.
In the last Associated Press dispatch from Saigon on April 30, 1975, Peter Arnett filed this report: “The bronze plaque with names of the five American Servicemen killed in the embassy in 1968 was torn from the lobby wall. It lay amid piles of documents and furniture on the back lawn. We carried it back to the Associated press office." A footnote to the Arnett story appeared in a book written by Captain Stuart Herrington entitled Peace With Honor. Herrington wrote, " Disgusted at what I was about to do, I canceled my plans to rescue the plaque. Those guys would roll over in their graves if they could see what's happening now! ".
The name of the Marine is James Conrad Marshall, a Monroeville native and 1964 graduate of Monroe County High School. For several years, James Marshall and John Kearley were my companions as we walked together from Monroeville Elementary School to the Marshall home on Jones Avenue where John and I would continue our journey through the Marshall yard to our homes on Fore Avenue, the next street west. Together, we played the games of boys until my family moved from Monroeville. Eventually, we would all serve our nation. My service, while without distinction, was honorable. John Kearley received commendation as commander of a U.S. Naval vessel under attack in the Persian Gulf. And, James Marshall made the ultimate sacrifice. The bronze plaque was affixed to the wall of the U.S. Embassy to honor James Marshall and the other men killed defending the embassy. The U.S. Marine Security Guard training center at Quantico, Virginia was named Marshall Hall in his honor. And, in our community, James Marshall has been quietly honored.
To one man, this wasn’t enough. John Paul Rossie, a former Navy reservist who joined the Marines, did not know James Marshall personally and heard of the plaque from a veteran who saw it in a museum. After visiting Viet Nam, the veteran posted a message on a Viet Nam veteran’s website operated by John Rossie. The veteran reported, “ I found this memorial plate which was dedicated to the men killed defending the US Embassy during TET ‘68. It was in a small [Vietnamese] museum...stuck away behind some other display cases [and] out of view until I caught sight of it. It is in the old French Governor's Residence which is now known as the Revolutionary Museum on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street in District 1, only a couple of blocks away from the former Presidential Palace.”
The memorial plaque affixed to the U.S. Embassy in Saigon to honor James Marshall, Charles L. Daniel, William M. Sebast, Owen E. Mebust, and Jonnie B. Thomas was in the hands of communists and considered by them to be spoils of war. John Paul Rossie of Littleton, Colorado believed the plaque to be American property and thus began a one- man fight against a passive U.S. position with other priorities and a hard line communist position without a sliver of humanity.
On May 16, 1999, John Rossie sent a fax to Ambassador Douglas Peterson at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and made his initial inquiry. In May 2000, Rossie learned from an embassy spokesman that the memorial plate had vanished from the museum. When questioned, the Vietnamese museum director stated, “(the plaque) has been taken away for some work.” In August 2000, Rossie learned from Charles Ray, U.S. General Counsel in Hanoi, “ the Defense Attache has been in touch with central ministry personnel, but it is beginning to look like we will not be able to get it back any time soon.” Despite pleas to the veteran’s organizations of the Marine Corps Security Guard and 716th Military Police Battalion and to commanders of the active duty units, John Rossie was not getting any help. His efforts thwarted at every turn, Rossie decided to share his efforts online where I learned of his efforts. Soon, his computer filled with messages of praise for his efforts. Men who served with James Marshall and the others named on the plaque contacted him. His website began to tell the unfolding story and more veterans logged on to share their stories.
Undaunted, Rossie believed the memorial plaque belonged in a place of honor at the U.S. Embassy and his campaign started anew. In January 2002, Rossie wrote to Raymond Burghardt, the new U.S. Ambassador to Viet Nam and outlined his efforts to honor the American soldiers. Rossie changed his tactics and asked that a replacement memorial plaque be placed at the U.S. Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) should the communist government not relinquish the original. On January 30, 2002, a friend who had traveled to Viet Nam sent John Rossie a message by e-mail. The friend reported that the name of the museum had been changed to Ho Chi Minh City Museum and the memorial plaque was under lock and key and not available for viewing. The plaque had become a very sensitive issue for the communists.
On February 6, 2002, Ambassador Burghardt informed the former Marine that renewed efforts to gain possession of the original plaque had received no official comment from the communist officials in Viet Nam. However, with quiet defiance, the Ambassador indicated that an exact replica would be cast and erected to replace the plaque held by the communists. Finally, after three years of writing letters, sending and answering countless e-mail messages, and making innumerable telephone calls, the efforts of John Rossie came to fruition.
On November 14, 2002, three days after the people of America celebrated Veteran’s Day, a small contingent of U.S. military personnel, American businessmen, and dependents of U.S. personnel gathered at a garden wall on the U.S. Embassy grounds. Near the place where these brave men sacrificed their lives for our country, the memorial plaque was placed in their honor and memory. James Conrad Marshall gave his life for our country. He is, once again, honored at the place of his sacrifice because one man refused to forget