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Jon Michael Young, KIA, Vietnam

"Slip off that pack. Set it down by the crooked trail. Drop your steel pot alongside. Shed those magazine-ladened bandoliers away from your sweat-soaked shirt. Lay that silent weapon down and step out of the heat. Feel the soothing cool breeze right down to your soul ... and rest forever in the shade of our love, brother." From Jon's Nam-Band-Of-Brothers (posted 1/30/06 on

Jon was the son of a widowed mother, who learned her only child was killed on a muddy river bank along the Ba Lai River. Mrs. Alma Young's husband, Eldridge Clarke Young died when Jon was two years old, in 1947.

Jon Michael Young was one more of five 1965 graduates of San Luis Obispo High School (the same class as Eddy) who died in Vietnam. When I look at the yearbook, the above picture is the only picture of him. It lists no sports or clubs. I do know that he belonged to the SLO Rifle Club and that his uncle, Guido Tognazzini, often took him hunting and fishing. A younger cousin remembered him as a quiet teenager. I was two years behind them in high school, but he's the only one of the five that I don't recognize.

Jon was born in Santa Maria, California on May 8, 1945 but later moved to San Luis Obispo. He died in Kien Hoa Province, South Vietnam on the same day that Martin Luther King died, April 4, 1968.

After high school, Jon signed up with the Army and after basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, he was sent to Mannheim, Germany but then on January 4, 1968, he began his tour of duty in Vietnam. It was the same week Eddy arrived there and he was killed exactly one month to the day after Eddy was killed. They were high school classmates killed a month apart and not far from each other in a land that seemed much further away then than it does today.

When I was in Vietnam last year, I toured the Mekong Delta; we transferred from a larger boat to a canoe to tour some of the river-ways between the mad-made islands (made from dredging the bottom of the river). One of those small river-ways is the Ba Lai River where Jon's boat was ambushed. The picture below is one of those water-ways taken in 2018, exactly 50 years after Jon lost his young life there at age 22. Attempts were made for back up troops to support them in the ambush but they were unable to get there in time. Sixteen were killed and 69 wounded.

Jon was in the U.S. Army's Mobile Riverine Division (MRF) in the 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry of the 9th Infantry Division. He was an SP5. His job was Infantry Operations and Intelligence Specialist.

Jon Michael Young may have been a quiet young man, but he was a brave one, and though he had very little family, he is not forgotten, as you can see by the above quote from his Nam-Band-Of-Brothers where they ask that he "rest forever in the shade of our love, brother."

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