• stanhope
  • Sussex
  • April 03, 1949
  • January 23, 1969
  • Navy
  • RANK:
  • HN
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Henry E. Pearce II was born on April 3, 1949.  His home of record is Stanhope, NJ.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry E. Pearce Sr. His father is a retired career Navy officer.  Henry was born in California during his father’s years of duty and lived in Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Cape Cod, and Hawaii before moving to Stanhope in 1965.  He had two siblings, Richard D. Pearce and Elaine M. (Pearce) Dukin.

Pearce spent his first year of high school at Roxbury High School but then transferred to Netcong High School where he graduated in 1967.  While there he played baseball, played for the marching and dance bands (tenor sax, alto sax, and clarinet). He was also a member of the boys’ choir. Before joining the Navy, Pearce was active in the Boy Scouts of America where he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He was also the Assistant Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 54 of Succasunna. Pearce was a member of the Stanhope Methodist Church and received the Methodist Church Award for scouting.  He was a past master counselor of the Order of De Molay, Eureka Chapter and involved with the boys’ fraternity of the Masonic Lodge, in Dover.

He joined the Navy in October 1967 with the idea of becoming a musician.  When he reached the Navy training base on the Great Lakes, he was sent to the Navy’s hospital corpsman school. He completed Field Medical Service School with the Marine Corps and graduate on December 6, 1968 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. His first assignment was aboard the U.S.S. Grand Canyon.  While on board the ship, Pearce answered a call for volunteers to go to Vietnam.  He spent one month in a field medic training school at Camp Lejune, North Carolina, before leaving for the Far East. 

He served in the US Navy and attained the rank of Hospitalman (HN).  Pearce reported to the 1st Marine Division headquarters in DaNang, Vietnam on December 14, 1968. Upon his arrival in Vietnam Pearce volunteered to work with Marine reconnaissance units as a corpsman, serving with the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Marine Division. In this capacity he was considered a member of the patrol.  It was during such a patrol that Pearce’s unit was caught in crossfire and he was fatally wounded.  Pearce was killed in action on January 23, 1969.  He was killed while on a reconnaissance mission 15 miles south west of An Hoa, South Vietnam. Pearce is buried at Locust Hill Cemetery, Dover, NJ.

Pearce was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device, the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze Star, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon Bar posthumously.

I was his next-door neighbor during my entire childhood.  In 1967, he went off to the military and ultimately to war, I went off to college.  My freedoms, my constitutional rights, and my liberties I assign to his sacrifice.  People don’t realize that the world was not born when they began to pay attention.  What Hank did to defend our country’s commitments at that time was in defense of the freedoms we all take for granted.  If World Wars or Vietnam or Iraq did not happen, our world…and America’s possibilities…would be vastly different.  Henry Pearce is my hero.

-Written by Tim Schoch, July 4, 2008

I’ve really learned one lesson over here. To those who fought for it, life and freedom have a taste the protected will never know.

-Written by Pearce in a letter home to his parents, received the day before he was killed

Source: NJVVMF, Morris County’s The Record, Elaine Pearce Dukin and Tim Schoch.


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