Next Monday, Americans will observe Memorial Day. Originally known as Decoration Day, the special day originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season. Mike Dunlap, of Forsyth, has reason to pause and reflect on that day. He lost a few friends in the Viet Nam War.
Born in Memphis in 1947, Dunlap is the son of a serviceman, Floyd Lewis Dunlap, who served as a sergeant first class in the Army-Air Corp during World War II. His father met his mother, Nina, in Sheffield, England just after the war. To get to the US, she boarded the Queen Mary and sailed across the Atlantic in 1946. His father also served in the Korean Conflict in the 2nd Infantry Division.
Dunlap grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas and joined the Army after high school in 1966 while it was hot and heavy in Viet Nam. Even though the nightly news showed horrific battles at that time, Dunlap volunteered because he wanted to serve his country. He served a total of 3 years and 10 months going in as a private and becoming an officer after Jump School at Fort Benning and Officers Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was sent to Viet Nam and promoted to captain a month later.
Three of Dunlap’s high school friends also went to Viet Nam but tragically lost their lives. Corporal Thomas Massie Boyd III served with the Third Marine Amphibious Force. He drowned after a chopper he was riding lifted off a ship and crashed into the South China Sea.
Dunlap’s friend Army Private First-Class Sanders Key Stroud II, a purple heart winner in the 4th Infantry Division, was reported missing and ultimately declared dead on November 4, 1967. Records indicate he had multiple fragmentation wounds received at Hill 724, South Vietnam, Kontum Province.
His friend, Army 1st Lieutenant Kenneth Robert Eyring was serving his country during the Vietnam War when he gave his all on March 19, 1969. He was attached to the 1st Infantry Division when he was killed in a helicopter crash.
These three heroic men are honored at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC. To honor these men and all those who died during service defending our country, a Monroe County Memorial Day Observance will be held on the square in Forsyth at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 29.