George W. Skakel (1968/03/06)
George went to war with a wealth of life experiences and left them in Vietnam.
George Walter Skakel entered the world on January 12, 1946, in Moab, Utah. The names of his parents or details relating to his formative years have not surfaced. The family, which also included his sisters Nancy and Sally, likely relocated to Ojai, California, where George attended Nordhoff High School. After his graduation in June 1964, he hit the road and traveled throughout France, Spain, Germany and England. After completing a class at Oxford, he worked as a merchant seaman earning his passage to India, Thailand, Saigon and Northern Australia, where he worked in a uranium mine. Skakel returned to the US and entered the University of California, Santa Cruz, with its pioneer class of 1965, but only remained through his freshman year. The UCSC newspaper City on a Hill later noted that he was drafted because he had not made "normal educational progress" when he dropped out of school for a year and a half.
George Skakel entered the US Army about February 1967. Following basic and advanced training, he was sent to Vietnam on May 6 and assigned to D Company, 1st Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, which was serving in the Bong Son Plain district in northern Binh Dinh Province. While in Vietnam, Skakel submitted articles to the UCSC newspaper The City on a Hill under the pen name CPL Callibernus.
Following the Tet New Year Offensive in January 1968, his unit was moved to Hue. At that time he was leading a squad of what he described as "Two old-timers and nine college kids." Dick Miller, a former platoon member, shared his remembrance of George Skakel on the Vietnam Memorial Fund Internet Website:
“I didn't like him at first. He was too aggressive for me, always looking for trouble and poking into things on patrol that I preferred to ignore or avoid. Later, when I got to know him better, I came to appreciate his attitude and we became friends. He was an energetic, assertive, and tough trooper, yet he maintained his compassion for everyone and his examples of humanity and morality were inspiring. I was next to him when he was hit and with him when he died, which was almost instantly. Clarence Young and I recognized the mortal nature of his wound, and lay next to him and spoke to him constantly until there was no doubt of his demise. We didn't know if he could hear us, but we wanted him to know that he was not alone and was being tended to by those who loved him.”
The body of Sergeant George Walter Skakel was recovered; however, his gravesite has not been located.
(VVMW; VVVW; 7th Infantry "First Team," 7th Cavalry Regiment-Vietnam War http://www.first-team.us/journals/7th_rgmt/7thndx04.html; Skakel-"Callibernus" Killed in Action, UCSC City on a Hill Press, 1968, http://www.nordhoff64.com/class_profile. cfm? member_id=233053, Nordhoff HS Memorial [April 5, 2009])