DOUGLAS J MARKOVICH - SP4
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- August 31, 1947
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- March 01, 1969
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Douglas Markovich was born in Newark, NJ, on August 31, 1947, to Clara and Joseph Markovich. He and his family, including a younger brother Wayne, lived in Madison, NJ. Doug attended Lucy D. Anthony School, now the F. M. Kirby Children's Center, and was a 1965 graduate of Madison High School where his interests included wrestling and football.
Ted Monica, then Madison's football coach and now its athletic director, remembers Doug as being "quiet, paying attention to details, not flamboyant, but very coachable." Coach Monica knew he would be "a true American Soldier."
Doug enjoyed hunting with his father (now a retired Madison police detective sergeant) and their beagle hound. "Tucker", a basset hound, was also a member of the family. Doug's mother Clara kept herself busy as a secretary in the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.
Doug worked at Scinto's Shoe Store on Waverly Place (now the Suburban Shoe Stop) when he was 16 and 17 years old and after high school graduation Doug went to work for NJ Bell. Doug's ambition for a career at Bell Telephone was interrupted when he entered the US Army on March 19, 1968, and received basic training at Fort Dix, NJ and Camp Polk, LA. After "basic" he was transferred to Vietnam in August 1968. He attained the rank of Specialist 4 (SP4).
Before leaving the States, Doug and Miss Diane McDonald of Lake Parsippany became engaged and set their wedding date for September 6, 1969, one month after his tour of duty was to end.
In Vietnam, Markovich was assigned to Company H, Third Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Division as a rifleman in the Da Nang perimeter. While stationed along the Cambodian border in Vietnam, Doug wrote his father and related how the North Vietnamese were using Cambodia as a supply route to bring ammunition and supplies to use against American troops.
He wrote, "We watch the supplies coming down the trails and roads and can't do anything about it, we are not allowed to 'fire' into Cambodia."
Mr. Markovich wrote President Nixon and advised him what Doug had written and that the US should bomb these supply routes. No response was received from Washington, DC, and it wasn't until a few years after Doug was killed that Mr. Markovich learned that President Nixon had received his letter and had ordered secret bombing raids in Cambodia to cut off the supply lines.
In a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars in New Orleans on August 20, 1973, President Nixon clarified his decision to bomb Cambodia.
My comrades, I'll just read you a letter. A President gets a lot of moving letters during and after any period of war. This is from a father of a soldier who served along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border back in 1969. It says:
Dear Mr. President:
Back in early 1969- - and I had this letter he wrote me then too- - I wrote to you requesting that you allow the bombing of supply routes in North Vietnam and Cambodia. I wrote to you because my son Douglas, who was with the Fourth Infantry Division near Kontum, complained to us in his letters about all the materials and men that the North Vietnamese were shipping in from Cambodia.
When my son was killed in March of 1969, I felt you let him down. And I felt you let the other troops down by not allowing these supply lines to be bombed. And now today, in 1973, I read where you did approve the bombing in 1969, and I now believe the Lord led you to make a proper decision to this matter. I sincerely feel your actions saved many lives and shortened that dreadful war.
Just let me add a postscript to that letter. If American soldiers in the field today were similarly threatened by an enemy and if the price of protecting those soldiers was to order air strikes to save American lives, I would make the same decision today that I made in February, 1969.
On March 1, 1969, Markovich was aboard one of the first three helicopters to set down in a landing zone northwest of Kontum. To provide security for the incoming helicopters, a fourth helicopter touched down and an enemy force subjected the landing zone to intense automatic-weapon, small-arms and mortar fire from well concealed fortified positions. Continuously exposing himself to devastating enemy attack, Doug placed accurate suppression fire on the enemy positions. During the ensuing fight, SP4 Douglas J. Markovich, age 19, was mortally wounded by enemy shrapnel.
Markovich's heroic actions were instrumental in repulsing a determined enemy attack, and as a result of his actions he was posthumously awarded the United States' third highest military award, the Silver Star.
On March 1, 1969, the President of the Republic of Vietnam awarded posthumously to Markovich the Vietnam Military Merit Medal. The citation read as follows:
Servicemen of courage and rare self-sacrifice, they displayed at all times the most tactful cooperation while aiding the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam to repel the Red wave undermining South Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
With a ready zeal and commendable response, they fought on to the end in every mission and set a brilliant example for their fellow soldiers. They died in the performance of duty. Behind them they leave the abiding grief of their former comrades-in-arms, Vietnamese, as well as American.
John Mantone, a Madison resident remembers. "Doug and I went all through high school and were drafted into the Army at the same time. Alphabetically, we always ended up together. We left from Morristown in a bus to Newark and from Newark to Fort Dix. Our bunks were side-by-side, and we trained side-by-side." (Both John's and Doug's fathers were Madison police officers, Capt. Anthony Mantone and Detective Sgt. Joseph Markovich.
John recalls. "Doug would always be the first one out for formations, to a classroom or a field. He always wanted to do everything right. After basic training, Doug went on to Camp Polk for further infantry training and subsequently to 'Nam. I was sent to Germany. The last time I saw Doug was at a pool party at his house before we reported back."
Doug, the third Madisonian to die in the Vietnam War and the 32,375th American casualty, was buried in Hollywood Memorial Cemetery in Union, NJ, following services at the Madison Presbyterian Church on March 12, 1969.
Taken in part from Always with us
Madison War Memorial Book Committee
Madison, NJ, 1998
Markovich's Silver Star citation reads:
For gallantry in action while engaged in military operations against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Specialist Four Markovich distinguished himself while serving as a Rifleman with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. On 1 March 1969, Specialist Markovich was on one of the first helicopters to set down in a landing zone northwest of Kontum and immediately assumed a position to provide security for the incoming helicopters. As the fourth helicopter touched down, an unknown sized enemy force subjected the landing zone with intense automatic weapons small arms and mortar fire from their well-concealed fortified positions. Continuely exposing himself to devastating enemy attack, Specialist Markovich placed accurate suppressive fire on the enemy positions. During the ensuing firefight Specialist Markovich was mortally wounded by enemy shrapnel.
His heroic actions were instrumental in repulsing the determined enemy attack. Specialist Four Markovich's courageous acts, initiative and exemplary devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Sources: Clara Markovich (mother), Madison War Memorial Book Committee and NJVVMF.
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