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Tom Markunas was a Friend of mine...


I met Tom at Ft. Benning, Georgia in early August of 1968. We were both in training to be Combat NCO's and were members of 80th Company. We entered the training there as Privates. The training was very rigorous and we had little time to socialize.

I remember a Sunday afternoon in the barracks and a discussion of the movie "Cool Hand Luke" starring Paul Neuman. We debated the Egg Eating Feat of Luke and decided to put his accomplishment to the test. Could our hero (slightly modified rules) eat 20 hard boiled eggs in 30 minutes? Tom assured us that he could. We approached the Mess Sergeant who agreed to supply the eggs on the condition that he be present. Wagering was Heavy! Twenty plus minutes and 14 eggs later Tom was forced to call for the Wastepaper basket.--Good Try Tom, valient Effort!

After graduating we were all assigned to Basic Training Companies for OJT as NCO's. When I go down the list of names of class members of 80th Company Class 7-69 (Supplied by Leonard Russel NCOC Locator Web Page), The only men I can remember are the ones that were subsequently assigned to the same Training Company I was at Ft. Gordon, Ga.. I see of course Tom and myself but also Sgt. Paul L.Gow, Sgt. David R. Hutto, and Sgt. Irvin F. Otto Jr., additionally I remember two other NCO's from Class 3-69 who were at Ft. Gorden with us. They were SSGT. Willard J. Dufresne Jr. and SSgt. John Anthoney LaPolla. Sergants Dufresne and LaPolla graduated at the top of their class and were made Staff Sergants right out of NCO School. They also went to Jump School as well and were "Airborne" the rest of us were "Legs". We were all Platoon Sergeants except John LaPollo who was assistant to the Company First Sergeant and as such was our immediate superior.

We worked long hours at Ft. Gordon but after hours we were free to go where we pleased. Occasionally we would get together at the NCO club and kick up our heels. On one occasion Sgt. Otto and I walked over to to the Club and were joined later by Tom, and John. We all stayed longer than we should have. Sgt. Otto and I left first and went back to the Company Area. A couple hours later John came to my room to get me to help him with Tom. Tom had gotten sick and was totally unable to walk. I remember well the two of us getting Tom out of the car and helping him into the shower. We sat him up in the corner and turning the water on. David Hutto I believe, was in the same barracks with Tom and got him over and into bed. The next morning Tom was fine and there were no repercussions.

I recall Tom had a Volkeswagon Beetle that I drove on at least one occasion. I had never driven a Beetle previously and have never driven one since. I also remember meeting Tom's wife but I no longer remember her name.

I remember Tom as being an immediately likable fellow. Not big in stature but a man that stood out in a crowd ... a guy you didn't forget.

I recall the shock and sadness I felt the day, in the jungles of Tay Ninh, when I read Tom's name in the Army Times listing of KIAs. Staff Sergeant John Anthony LaPolla had been killed the previous month with the 82nd Airborne and Staff Sergeant Willard Dufresne Jr. was killed five days after Tom. Sergeant Irvin F.Otto was a member of my Batalion in Vietnam and was WIA the Summer of 69 before I could make contact with him. I believe he is living and in New Jersey. I hope to contact him soon.

My Very Best to the Markunas Family and Friends.


...Tom Markunas was a Friend of Mine.
"He made us Happy and we Loved Him Well".

Arthur (Jack) Giltinan
Sgt. B Company 2 Batallion 5th Cav.
1st Air Calvary Division (Vietnam) 3/69-09/25/69
Ret. 3/10/70 By reason of Physical Disability
(WIA)




Copyright © 1999Arthur "Jack" Giltinan