Melesso Garcia (1967/10/17)
Private Melesso Garcia shared misgivings with his comrades about going into combat on October 17, 1967.
Melesso Garcia listed Santa Cruz County as his residence; however, the location of his birth, family members and his life in the community have not been established. He was born on October 18, 1946, and while some portion of his education may have taken place in Watsonville, Watsonville High School did not include him among their students who died in Vietnam.
Garcia enlisted in the regular US Army in the fall of 1966 and received training at Fort Lewis, Washington. He was assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion (Black Lion Battalion) of the 28th Infantry Regiment and on July 16, 1967, began his Vietnam tour.
On October 17, 1967, Garcia's company was in a jungle area near Ong Thanh (about fifty miles from Saigon) when they were ambushed by approximately 1200 Viet Cong troops. The two US companies (A&D), totaling about 120 men, were pinned down as snipers opened fire from all directions. Pulitzer Prize winning author David Maraniss, in his book They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America, October 1967, detailed the end of the life of Private First Class Melesso Garcia.
”To his left [SP4] Troyer saw Melesso Garcia behind a log, gesturing. It seems that Garcia wanted to say something. He turned on his side and pushed his body up with one hand and at that moment was shot. A look came over his face that Troyer had not seen before. For two days Garcia had been haunted by premonitions that he should not be out there, and now the realization of his foreboding registered on his face.”
Melesso Garcia died one day short of his twenty-first birthday. His remains were recovered and returned to Houston, Texas, where they were buried in the Houston National Cemetery.
(VVMW; USDVA Answers.com Battle of Ong Than, They Marched into Sunlight" War and Peace Vietnam and America, October 1967, by David Maraniss, Simon & Shuster NY Pp. 250, 272-273, http:// www.answers.com/topic/battle-of-ong-thanh, [16 Sept 2008])