Steven W. Herring (1969/06/05)
"A mothers heart cannot be still" began a poem to Steven by his mother before his death.
Steven Wayne Herring was born in Watsonville, California on August 5, 1948, to Ruth and Cecil Herring. Along with sisters, Gail and Joyce, he attended local elementary schools and later enrolled in Watsonville High School. He was remembered in school as loving to fish; he would do anything to be able to go fishing. He also enjoyed riding horses and the thrill of the rodeo. On one occasion he was even known to have ridden a bucking bull. Herring left high school before graduating.
In July 1967, Steven Herring enlisted in the US Army where he earned his high school diploma. He completed basic training at Ft. Bliss, Texas, and advanced individual training at Ft. Huchuca, Arizona, where he qualified as an aircraft maintenance apprentice.
On January 6, 1968, he was sent to Vietnam and assigned as a door gunner on an UH-1C (Huey) helicopter. During his tour Steven received the Air Medal, which read:
“Private First Class Herring distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions while serving as a door gunner on a UH-ld helicopter involved in the insertion of elements of a Special Forces unit near Song Be. On the initial lift into the landing zone, a successful landing was made in spite of extreme natural hazards. On lift off from the landing zone, the flight began receiving heavy automatic weapons fire. Private First Class Herring began placing highly accurate suppressive fire on the enemy positions. His accurate and aggressive fire protected his aircraft and enabled it to fly to safety.”
Herring's helicopter was providing support to elements of the 25th Infantry Division and on June 5, 1969, while flying behind enemy lines at about 150 feet, was hit by small arms fire and "went in" [crashed]. One of the craft's crewmen [believed to be Steven] was killed in the crash and the remaining three were killed by enemy troops. For his part in the action, Specialist Fourth Class Steven Wayne Herring was posthumously awarded the Air Medal with 24 Oakleaf clusters and the Purple Heart. A month before the fateful mission his mother had written the following poem and sent it to her son:
“My Son in Viet Nam
A mother's heart cannot be still,
Until she sees her boy climb o'er the hill.
In the bed at night I lie
And see you, son, in the bunker, fire lighting the sky.
I pray for God to keep your way clear,
For a worried mother is waiting for you, Dear.
We miss you, Son, and wait for the day you will return.
With boys like you around, those Charleys soon will
Don't those Charleys know that they can't win? Our boys don't mess around, they really dig in.
Take care, Son, in that land of Viet Nam,
For back here, we're all waiting, Dear, especially your
To Steve, with love, from Mom
Steven Herring's body was recovered and buried in the Pajaro Valley Memorial Park.
(VVMW; VVVW; WHSM; WRP, June 11, 1969; Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, Helicopter UH-1C 66-00552, http://www.bluemax-ara-assoc.com/aircraft/66-00552.HTM, [16 September 2008]; Starlight Café; My Son in Vietnam, http://thestarlitecafe.com/poems/50/poem_8203039112.html, [16 September 2008])