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In Memory


Donald Wentz

 Don was killed in Viet Nam in 1971.

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06/01/14 07:01 PM #1    

Edward A Peters

From the Vietnam Virtual Wall 


Last Letter


In his last letter home from Vietnam, the Haverford Township soldier told his parents he was preparing for a 10-day combat mission. "But don't worry," Pfc. Donald R. Wentz, 21, reassured them. "There's not supposed to be many Vietcong in the area."


Apparently there were not, but Pfc. Wentz was killed in the blast of an artillery shell fired by "friendly forces." His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ray D. Wentz, of 33 Treaty Rd., Havertown, received the letter the day after his death Thursday at Lai Khe, 25 miles north of Saigon. He had been on duty along the Cambodian border with the 1st Infantry Division.


Pfc. Wentz, a 1965 graduate of Haverford High School, later attended RETS Electronic School, Upper Darby, and was a technician with the Pennsylvania Bell Telephone Co. at King of Prussia until he was drafted last April. He was sent to Vietnam in September. He was an only child. His father is employed as an engineer at Bell.


Memorial Day 2003

I grew up with Don Wentz. I lived across the street from him ... we spent many hours together playing football, basketball, baseball, and wiffle ball. He was, without a doubt, the nicest person I have ever met. That is not surprising given how nice his parents were.

When Don was in Vietnam, I was working at Ford Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio. I remember writing to him and saying that I was working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. He wrote back from Vietnam to tell me that my schedule sounded pretty good compared to what they were going through.

When growing up Don's favorite somg was "Duke of Earl."

When Don was in Vietnam, my brother was also there as a Company Commander in the 1st Infantry Division. That was the same division as Don, but my brother was in a different location. My mother (a former Army officer, as was my father) always kept a lookout through her living room window for the Army car that might arrive to tell her bad news about her son. One day it happened. She saw the Army car pull up and park right in front of our house. She told me she felt absolute dread as the two men got out. But then they walked across the street to Don's house. My mother said that her dread immediately turned into intense sorrow for Don and his parents.

In 1970 I entered the Army as an officer and spent 2 1/2 years. I thought of Don every one of those days. In fact I still think of him almost every day - not just today, Memorial Day, 2003.

Carl Eichenlaub



06/02/14 07:27 AM #2    

Linda Hansell (Regnery)

You are so right about Don. He was really a nice fella. I was saddened to hear of his death at one of the reunions. When I was in D.C. I went to his name on the wall and it gave me chills.Thanks for posting that story.

Linda Hansell Regnery

06/02/14 01:19 PM #3    

Robert Young

How sad it is that anyone have his/her life cut short before they have an opportunity to reflect on decades of memories. I think often of our classmates who are no longer with us.  I remember Donny as unique among us at Manoa.  Not only because he would order peanut butter and jelly sandwiches everyday, but because he was kind to, and thoughtful of, others way beyond his years. "Pushing the buttons" of classmates was simply not part of his persona.  Don and I had our draft interviews at the 69th Street recruitment center on the same day.

06/02/14 01:59 PM #4    

Cynthia G Marshall

I believe Donald was in one of my classes during our years in HHS. I did not know him too well but was greatly saddened to hear of his death in Vietnam. I do remeber reading of it in the Main Line times during a visit home, I think and was unbelieving and greatly saddened.When I visited the Wall in DC, I looked for his name, but not being sure of his dates, I did not find it. The posts here  allow me to remeber again a young person that I knew only a little but know I would have enjoyed knowing better.



06/02/14 06:19 PM #5    

Stuart Goldman

Some of us still travel there everyday... I visit Don as I visit the others, not always by name and face as I knew but a few... We don't talk, merely stare at each other for a few seconds.  Oft times there is an exchange of a smile, some times a wince of pain, but always a recognition in our eyes.

Stu Goldman, Petty Officer 3rd, 5th DIV, BB 62, USN, Vietnam 1968-69



06/02/14 09:52 PM #6    

Ray Norman

Don and I were best friends in Manoa Elementary School, we were constantly at each other's house and driving our parents crazy!  We lost contact with each other in junior and senior high school but I remember my mother sending me a letter at college informing me of Don's demise.  My mother called his mother and talked for several hours. Later when I moved down to Washington, DC, to live I visited The Wall and saw his name there. Don left us way too early in his young life but will remain in many of our thoughts for years to come.

Ray Norman, Airman First Class, English Language School, Nha Trang, Vietnam, USAF,

06/03/14 06:41 AM #7    

Michael DeLaurentis

Thanks to Ed Peters for posting for this moving tribute. We should all be so lucky as to have one like it.

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