Crawford County men among 1,200 who perished in Vietnam

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Gordon Nagel, Nicholas Walz, Gary Walz

By Sherrie Ball

About 165,400 people served in the Vietnam Conflict from Wisconsin. More than 1,200 perished. Of those, three men were from Crawford County.

Gordon L. Nagel was from Wauzeka. He was born April 8, 1948, the son of Lester and Christie (Aspenson) Nagel. From a large family, Gordon was one of 11 children.

He was a Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class (BM2) assigned Harbor Security with the U.S. Navy. Gordon enlisted in the Navy with his brother, Myron Nagel under the “Buddy System.” (The Navy Buddy Enlistment Program offers for the enlistment of small groups of not more than four male individuals or four female individuals who wish to stay together for as long as possible during their enlistment.)

The brothers both worked under the same command, Myron securing vehicles, and Gordon the boats. Lester and Christie Nagel also had an older son, David in Vietnam who was in U.S. Army. David and Myron survived the war but Gordon’s body came home escorted by his brother Myron. Gordon died on Oct. 5, 1969, at Da Nang in Quang Nam Province. Gordon L. Nagel is remembered on Panel/Row: 17W, 42 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. His body rests at Evergreen Cemetery in Prairie du Chien.

Nicholas George Walz was from Steuben. He was a Petty Officer Third Class in the U.S. Navy and served as an equipment operator. He was born May 27, 1945, the son of John and Caroline (Duha) Walz.
Nicholas Walz died two days before Christmas on Dec. 23, 1967, in the Thua Thien Province of South Vietnam from hostile action of an explosive device. He is remembered on Panel/Row: 32e, 53 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Nicholas Walz is buried at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery in the town of Eastman.

Nicholas was a member of a large family that included numerous siblings. Of the three Vietnam War fatalities in Crawford County the Walz family endured two losses with the death of first cousins Nicholas in 1967 and followed by Gary in 1969.

Gary Thomas Walz of Prairie du Chien. was born Aug. 7, 1947, the son of Thomas Walz and June Walz-Petsche. He was a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marines where he served as a rifleman.

One sorrowful day Gary’s mother received a phone call from the Marines telling her that Gary died of gunshot wounds, May 12, 1969, aboard the hospital ship USS Sanctuary off the coast of South Vietnam. Gary was wounded earlier in the day while on a search and clear operation south of Da Nang in Quang Nam Province.

Gary received an enemy small arms gunshot wound of the head which proved fatal. His sister, Melody Igou, recalled that she was only in third grade when Gary passed away. She remembers being pulled from class at school and walking through the door of their home to see her mother in tears. Gary had eight siblings and left behind an infant daughter, Lisa.

Gary Walz is found on Panel/Row: 25W, 90 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. He is buried at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery in the town of Eastman next to his identical twin brother Larry, who was also a Vietnam Veteran. Gary’s mother revealed, “As soon as Larry got home, Gary had to leave and he never came home. The loss you feel is something that never leaves. You never forget.”

Nor should any of us ever forget.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice Gordon Nagel, Nicholas Walz, Gary Walz, and each Veteran who has “paid the ultimate price,” while in attendance of the United States of America.

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