Once again the world is on the brink. Iran is on the verge of building a nuclear bomb, the Middle East is in chaos, and terror attacks grip the planet. It is hard to remember a time when so many threats loomed from so many places. The current climate of violence and warfare in the world almost makes the Vietnam War seem like a distant, dim memory except to those who suffered through it.
As we read about the latest hot spot that is about to explode, we should all reflect on the real cost of war, which is our children. There is a saying among soldiers that reads, “Young men die for old men’s wars.” Nothing can bring this home more than the story of the youngest American to die in the Vietnam War.
PFC. Dan Bullock grew up wanting to make something of himself. He had dreams of becoming a Police Officer, an Air Force Pilot or a U.S.Marine. As a child, Bullock grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina where he lived until his mother died when he was 11. After his mom’s death, the youngster moved with his dad and little sister to Brooklyn, New York.
The desire for a better life was strong in young Dan, and when Bullock was only 14-years-old, he managed to forge the date on his birth certificate. He changed his date of birth to December 21, 1949, which made him 18-years-old on paper. Documents in hand, he went down to the local Marine Recruiting Center and was able to enlist in the Marines on September 18, 1968, even though, in reality, he was still just 14. The young Private was assigned to Platoon 3039 at Parris Island, and he graduated Boot Camp on December 10, 1968.
No one was the wiser to Bullock’s real age and on May 8, 1969, he arrived in-country in Vietnam. The young Marine was assigned as a rifleman in 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was stationed at An Hoa Combat Base in Quang Nam Province. One can only imagine what was going through his mind as he stepped off the helicopter into the heat and noise of the Vietnam War.
PFC. Dan Bullock survived the horrors of the Vietnam War for just 31 days. On June 7, 1969, his base came under night attack, and while he was on his second run to bring more ammo to his beleaguered buddies, this very young man of only 15-years-old was struck by several rounds of enemy fire and died instantly. According to reports of the battle, two other Marines died during the fighting, and 31 were wounded. Of the wounded, 19 were evacuated due to the seriousness of their injuries.
It may be hard for most of us to understand what could motivate a teenager of 14 to put his life at risk and go off to war. According to those who knew him best, Dan was a young man with a purpose. “My brother didn’t like New York,” Dan’s sister, Gloria Bullock-Burroughs, 43, said in an interview. “He wanted to get an education, to make something of himself, and saw the Marines as a way to get there.” Bullock viewed his service as an opportunity to improve his life and had plans of continuing his education after Vietnam.
The 1960s were a troubled time in American history. Bullock’s sacrifice was made in the spirit of patriotism when many were calling patriots baby killers. According to his best friend from boot camp, Dan Bullock deserves to be celebrated and honored. “He’s a hero,” said Franklin McArthur, who has launched a campaign to win special recognition for his Marine Corps brother. “He lied about his age to defend this country. He’s the most patriotic young man. He took his secret to the grave to fight for an ideology, when you had grown men fleeing to Canada.” McArthur has petitioned Congress, the Commandant of the USMC, and the President to award a posthumous Congressional Medal Of Honor to PFC. Dan Bullock.
History has not completely forgotten the sacrifice of PFC. Dan Bullock. In 2003, the New York City Council renamed a section of Lee Avenue, where Bullock grew up in Brooklyn, in his honor. His name appears on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., alongside the names of 58,266 others who made the ultimate sacrifice. Of the Americans who died in Vietnam, 39,996 were just 22 or younger, and 8,283 were just 19-years-old. PFC. Dan Bullock is buried in his birthplace of Goldsboro, North Carolina. To our nation’s eternal shame, he was buried without a headstone until one was finally donated by talk-show host Sally Jessy Raphael in 2000.
We live in a time when the darkness seems to be closing in all around us. Islam is in conflict with the West, and the Middle East is seeing a wave of those advocating for Sharia taking over country after country. The Israelis and the Arabs have been in conflict for 63 years with no end in sight. Europe is on the verge of bankruptcy and dealing with a flood of immigrants, many of whom refuse to assimilate and demand their host nation follow Sharia Law. The new God of the Western World, multiculturalism, is replacing centuries of Judaeo-Christian faith; America is 15 trillion dollars in debt, the president seems to be delighting in his refusal to see past his own rigid ideology, and the legal citizens are fed up, out of work, and broke.
As our troubles abound, we need to hearken back to the simple sacrifice of one very brave young man who gave his only mortal life for what he believed. He died for the fundamental ideas of love of family, love of country, love of God, and working hard to make a better life. How many of us today are willing to do the same? We hear people complaining about their lives while demanding the government pay for everything from cradle to grave. We see politicians bought and paid for by special interests, and lobbyists have more influence over our elected officials than their constituents. Our leaders pass one law after the other that allows the government to intrude into every aspect of our lives.
PFC. Dan Bullock wasn’t interested in letting someone else do everything for him. He wanted to build a better life for himself and his loved ones on his own terms. He stood tall for the ideals on which America was founded because he believed in the worth of the American Constitutional Republic. His life may have ended on the battlefield, but his dream lives on. The dream to take our lives in our own two hands and make something of it. To stand tall and be proud of who we are while dreaming of what we may become.