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By Pat Lisi

I saw several lieutenants come and go during my twelve months in Vietnam with Echo Company 2/5.  And, it’s not that any of them were necessarily reckless or that they did dumb things to get themselves injured or killed.  It was simply a fact of life in 1968 & 69 that if you were a lieutenant in Nam and in command of a platoon of gung-ho Marines, your life in the bush was probably not going to all that lengthy.  The lieutenants I knew of in Echo Company lasted anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Lieutenant Kirkpatrick (Kirk) was with us for about 4 months, not bad — heck, that’s almost a third of whole year!  He was a lot of things to our platoon (2nd Platoon) which you can actually read about in a separate article posted on this very website entitled, “1st Lieutenant William Kirkpatrick.”  In that article I talk about the lieutanant being the type of officer who would do anything for his troops and about how he was interested in knowing all of the Marines he commanded no matter what their rank or how long they had been in Nam.

The photograph posted under this story helps everyone to understand what kind of commander Lt. Kirk was.  In this shot Kirk is cutting the hair of Corporal Crow who looks as comfortable as he would if he were back home at his neighborhood barber, getting a trim.  Lt. Kirkpatrick  is not having any trouble serving the corporal, and you can bet your last penny that Kirk is talking some sort of Marine business with Crow — maybe a strategy for the operation we were on at the time, or perhaps he’s getting Crow’s thoughts on where the NVA may be heading.  You see, 1st Lieutenant Kirkpatrick did not waste time, nor did he shy away from taking every opportunity to serve his men.  So, this little haircut appointment had duel purpose and, in the end, everyone came out a winner.

Kirk was the most memorable of all the officers I encountered in Vietnam, with the possible exception of Captain John Woggon who commanded Echo Company for 9 of the 12 months I was there.  I have met up with Kirk after the war was over and I hope to see more of him.  The problem is the distance between our homes — Saint George, Utah to West Chester, Pennsylvania.  Always willing to serve, that was Kirk’s number 1 attribute.



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