PHILIP H HESS - LCPL
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- September 28, 1945
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- December 22, 1966
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Philip Howard Hess was born to Howard and Elizabeth Hess on September 28, 1945. Philip Davis, a close family friend of Howard Hess, perished in WWII. So in the same year that war ended, Philip was named to honor that fallen friend. Philip was the oldest of five children. His home of record was Pequannock, NJ.
Bergen County was home to the Hess family for the next ten years - Dumont, Teaneck and Upper Saddle River. By the end of 1949, Philip would have two younger brothers. They did what all the other boys did, played in the woods and swam in the river. Even as a young boy, Philip helped to build a family home next to Ma and Pa Davis, the parents of his namesake. The family, and especially Phi,l loved dogs. The family pet most times was a German Shepherd.
In 1955, the family finally settled into the growing community of Pequannock Township, a picturesque town settled by the Dutch in the 1700's. It was here the family would grow by two more children, this time sisters. The three older brothers wasted no time doting on, and spoiling, the two young girls. With both of his parents having to work, the responsibility would fall on Phil, and then his two brothers, to care for their younger sisters.
Philip attended the local grade schools. Although he played some sports growing up, he would just as soon have had his nose in a book. While in Pequannock Township High School, Phil was a member of the Diamond Club. He would have graduated in 1964, but instead chose to enlist.
In 1964, Hess joined the US Marine Corps and completed boot camp at Parris Island, SC, followed by additional training at Camp Lejeune, NC. It was here he developed pneumonia and stayed while the rest of his company went to Camp Pendleton in California and then Vietnam. Soon he would follow the same route, assigned to the 1st Motor Transport Battalion, Company C in the Chu Lai.
In letters to and from home in "Air Mail" envelopes, he would write about the climate, the people and his dreams for the future. He was thinking of becoming a photographer and wanted to marry his girl back home.
While in Vietnam, he was concerned about the conditions of the people, mostly the children. He became very close to one Vietnamese family. He wrote about this to his family, his friends and his English teacher, Mr. Murphy. Mr. Murphy would share the letters with his classes, and they, like Phil's family, would send over food, clothes and games. His letters also had comments about how bad the water was. So packets and packets of Kool-Aid got sent as well as tea and coffee. Anything to make the water taste better.
During this time, his family got a German Shepherd puppy. It would be his dog when he came home. They named the dog Lance Corporal after Phil's current rank. One of his letters home was dedicated to care and training tips.
Phil was scheduled to go on R & R before Christmas, but he didn't take it so he could get out a little earlier and come home.
Philip Hess was killed in action on December 22, 1966.
His life was remembered by his friends, the High School he attended, and the people of the town - for they had lost one of their own. A dedication ceremony was held at Pequannock Township High School in May of 1967. A tree was planted, a stone plaque was set, and a family never forgot.
The following two poems were for Philip by his sister, Eileen Dello:
No Hero's Song
The unsung hero, with glory unadorned
No glorious reunion, with a land that was so torn
A game of war where strategies were lost
And human lives were not the final cost.
The price the living pay, the torture of the mind,
Of horrors they endure, again, again in time.
The wounds of battles inflicted far from home
Heal to scars where perfect skin once shone.
The state of innocence, the shell we lived within
Was surely stripped away by the gravity of our sin.
There was nowhere we could turn to place the blame
Instead we turned our backs and covered up the shame.
The returning soldier, was again amidst a war.
Wounded yet again, by facts we wanted to ignore.
There were no shouts or parades for a war was won.
We closed our eyes, our minds, our hearts, to just what we had done.
Oh America...America, what have we done wrong,
To those who lived and those who died, with a Hero's song.
The names on the wall had faces,
The faces had families as well.
The families all have stories, if you'll listen,
They all have the same one to tell.
You'll share their joy and hear the laughter
And grieve with them when there was none.
For the names on the wall were a father...
A brother...a husband...a son.
And you'll know the pride they are feeling,
As their tears gently fall,
For they always knew they were heroes,
Every name that is etched on the wall.
Sources: Eileen Dello (sister) and NJVVMF.
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