MICHAEL A DE MAGNIN

MICHAEL A DE MAGNIN - 1LT

  • HOMETOWN:
  • ridgewood
  • COUNTY:
  • Bergen
  • DATE OF BIRTH:
  • April 08, 1945
  • DATE OF CASUALTY:
  • November 01, 1969
  • BRANCH OF SERVICE:
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • 1LT
  • STATUS:
  • KIA
  • COUNTRY:
  • South Vietnam

Biography


Michael A.R. DeMagnin was born on April 8, 1945, to French parents.  His home of record is Ridgewood, NJ.  He was called Miche. His first name may have been spelled Michel.

He served in the US Army and attained the rank of First Lieutenant (1LT). 

DeMagnin completed Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and was second in command of a six man Mobile Advisory Team known as MAT 90.  This group was posted at the village of Ap Mo Cong in the III Corps Region.  This was close to the Cambodian border, about 15km north of Tay Ninh and just south of what was known as "War Zone C."  As Miche described it:  "a legendary, isolated outpost on the road to Cambodia."  Here, he and his team advised South Vietnamese Regional Forces and villagers alike (CIDG).

On November 1, 1969, on a reconnaissance mission checking an area for a possible operation just north of his base camp, DeMagnin's chopper was shot down by NVA machine gun fire.  He and six other men aboard the chopper were killed in the crash.

He was survived by his wife.

One of his close friends at Ft. Benning, GA, and in Vietnam, later became City Editor of the Arkansas City Traveler newspaper.  On April 30, 1975, as Saigon was falling, Don Ashton wrote a commentary for that paper on the war and his friend, Miche:

Vietnam/One final goodbye
A commentary
By Don Ashton, Traveler City Editor

Dear Miche,
They're writing the obituary on South Vietnam today.  If they hadn't written yours five years ago, you wouldn't have been surprised today.

You'd remember we had some hope in 1968 for a military standoff and a political settlement, but as we met for the last time in 1968, optimism had left our conversation.

We were in War Zone C, a few kilometers from the Cambodian border.  You were the lone American advisor of a frightened cadre of Vietnamese national guardsmen.  Poor rice growers and tree cutters.  Citizens of a jungle the North Vietnamese Army used even then as a supply center and hospital area; almost a rest and recreation center.

You spoke with a compassion for your Vietnamese friends, a relationship fostered through language, with your near native French and halting Vietnamese.

You spoke with sorrow of our friends in America, who so bitterly opposed on campuses we had not long left that day we served.

You spoke with bitterness of our leadership, career officers who lied to punch the right holes in their promotion tickets.  Officials who misled and were misled to save their political skins.  The pain when we were directed to lie for them.

You spoke with pride that we had chosen to serve.  We had misgivings from the first about that war, but there were no misgivings about our duty to serve well and honorably.  The war was not ours to choose.

You spoke with longing of your wife, a woman you had married too few months before you flew to a country you were never to return from.

We flew over the same jungle trees those days.  One day you flew over the wrong one.

As America says goodbye to South Vietnam today, and our leaders advise us to avoid recrimination about the past, my thoughts turn to you.

Bon soir, Michelle.

Sources: D. B. Ashton (friend), Bob Cottrell (volunteer) and NJVVMF.

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