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Column: The Wall -- Three county sons

Posted: May 3, 2018 1:51 p.m.
Updated: May 4, 2018 1:00 a.m.

One grew up in Bethune while the second played tennis for Camden High and the third was proud to call himself a “River Rat” from Lugoff.

Matthew Hough came of age in Bethune and chose to make a career as a soldier. He had worked himself to the rank of staff sergeant in the 1st Calvary. In Feb. 1966, the 1st Calvary was operating in the Binh Dinh Province, which was a hot bed of Viet Cong activity. When Vietnam was divided into North and South, scores of locals moved to the North. It was estimated that one-third of the locals in this province had blood kin fighting for the North.

On Feb. 23, 1966, Matthew “died through hostile action -- small arms fire.”

Sergeant Hough left behind a wife and three small daughters. His brother, Aaron, was the first family member to reach the family. Put your heart on this cold winter day with these five good people.

Michael Christmas was a top notch athlete and a member of the Camden High class of 1965. Like many men of that era, if you stopped attending college, you became subject to the draft and Michael was drafted into the army. Michael’s uncle offered to place him in the National Guard and when he was in basic training, the Army offered to make him a military policeman, but he declined these offers because he wanted to serve like his father, who had fought through Italy in WWII.

“Cherry Boy” was a title given to any new soldier when he arrived in Vietnam and one had to prove his “salt” by doing the toughest task before he would be accepted by the veterans. Michael was assigned to the 198th Light Infantry Brigade in the 52nd Infantry Division on April 13, 1969. His company was operating out of Quang Ngai Province, which bordered the Central Highlands. On May 6, the following month, he was the point man on a patrol when he gave his life for his country.

A memorial for Michael was erected by his CHS classmates in the park behind the Kershaw County Archives and Camden City Council renamed the Haile St. Extension as Christmas Place in his honor.

Terry Hearon was a spirited Lugoff lad who liked to hunt and fish and have a good time and he volunteered to join the U.S. Marines. In the spring of 1967, he was a PFC M60 machine gunner with Delta Company in the 1st Battalion of 5th Marine Division, which was operating in Quang Ton Province which his the nearest province to North Vietnam. This area closest to North Vietnam meant that you often  had to fight the better trained North Vietnam regular army rather than the Viet Cong.

Operation Union was a “search and destroy” mission in which we went hunting the enemy. On May 5, 1967, Terry met his demise due to “hostile fire.”

The surviving Vietnam veterans are on Social Security. The war is now a chapter in the history books, but for those who lived in these tumultuous times, it was a defining moment in American history.

These are just three of the Kershaw County natives who died one half the world away. We hope that you have taken or will take the opportunity to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall, which the American Legion has brought to our county.

Thank you for your attention.

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