Remembering High School Friends

One night when Charles Hawkins and his friends were young and living in Minneapolis, the young men heard the screeching of tires outside his house. They raced out to see their friend Terry Martin showing off his car in a cloud of noise and burnt rubber. Charles remembers “doing all those crazy things we did as kids.”

It was the mid-1960s, and for Charles and each his friends, military service was either expected through volunteering for a service or succumbing to the draft.

“It was what you were supposed to do,” Charles said.

And as they graduated, his friends departed for service. Terry Martin was one of the first to join; the driver of the screeching car.  After joining the Army, Terry Martin became a member of the 503rd Infantry of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.  The men lost their friend when he was killed on October 3, 1967.  He is one of 1,790 members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade listed on The Wall.

When the “quiet kid” in the group, David Erickson, volunteered to join the Marines, “it surprised us all,” said Charles.  The friends couldn’t imagine David as a young Marine.

On March 16, 1968, while patrolling the river and bridge pilings within his unit’s perimeter, David and a fellow Marine disappeared.  He was officially declared dead in 1976, but his body has still not been recovered and remains one of 1,655 who are unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.

Charles Hawkins joined the Army upon graduation in 1969.  Later that year, he was assigned to the Army’s 1st Infantry Division from 1969 until 1970, but unlike his two high school friends, he returned to Minnesota and currently lives in Prior Lake.  Yet he never forgot the friends he grew up with in Minneapolis.

In 2012, he became aware of a program established by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  The Faces Never Forgotten program is an effort to put a face and a story to each name on The Wall through the generosity of those willing to help locate the photos and make financial contributions to build the Education Center. The outcome of the program will ensure that this vital piece of history will be remembered and honored by visitors from around the globe for generations to come.

Through a series of monthly donations, Hawkins gave a significant contribution to the Faces Never Forgotten program in the memory of his childhood friends David and Terry.  His donations will make certain that the memory of his friends will live on within the Education Center at The Wall.  Recently he pledged to help find their pictures so that their faces can remain on display in The Education Center for decades to come.

As young men in Minneapolis, Charles, Terry, and David were not unlike many other young men throughout the nation.  Through generous contributions and efforts like those made by Charles, the legacy of those lost can live on for generations to come.