I ran across this memorial in Port Townsend Washington the other day. It honors Marvin Shields, a Medal of Honor sailor and Navy CB, who was born and raised in this small Washington town along Puget Sound. I was attracted to this memorial because I served on the USS Shields (DD-596) as a reservist out of San Diego back in the mid-late 1960s – but a different Shields. (click on the photo)
This was just days after I met a fellow at the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Western Montana along I-90 and the Clark Fork River. This fellow was about my age (~70), a little rough looking along the edges with a grey pony tail, a denim vest and a head scarf showing he was a Vietnam Vet. In talking with this fellow I learned that he had spent 3 years in Vietnam in the early 70s as an Army Medevac pilot.
I got thinking about this guy and his time in the Army in those days. He may not have looked the part, but this guy was a real hero. He undoubtedly saved many a soldier and Marine, and most likely also saw many who didn’t make it back alive and whose names are written on “The Wall” in DC. This pilot risked his life every time he took off in that medevac hello in a race to save lives.
Marvin Shields was one of those who was medevac’d out but didn’t make it back, and died in that place far away from Port Townsend.
Along with the Medal of Honor, Shields had a ship named after him — meet USS Marvin Shields (FF-1066).
Thank you Marvin Shields – and all others who gave the full measure.
Don Johnson – August 2015