CPL Gary Nels Nelson, USMC    
December 24, 1944 - June 4, 1966

Vietnam Campaign Medals

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Gary Nels Nelson

Gary Nels Nelson

This Memorial is to honor and remember Gary Nels Nelson from Glendale, California.

Gary Nelson was never able to live his life and experience the Joys of living like those of us who survived him, for he was cut off in the bloom of his youth when he was killed on June 4, 1966 at the tender age of twenty-one, when he hit a trip wire of a land mine while on Patrol, in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, but Gary packed more living in his short life than most of us do during a long extended "tour" - He was vivacious and loved life, and had many goals, one of which was to become a commercial pilot.

Gary was an only child, born Christmas Eve, 1944, the son of Shirley and  Phillip Nelson of Glendale, California.  Gary attended Glendale schools, was the captain of his High School Water Polo Team for the year 1962 and eventually graduated in 1963.

His desire was to return home and attend Glendale Junior College, which was never to be, but it was later
reported in the Campus newspaper, the "El Vaquero," that he was killed in Vietnam just weeks before coming home.

He was well liked by  his classmates and friends, and I heard that he was loved by all who knew him. Read the remarks Gary's friend Craig Cook sent me, which defined Gary's life, since his closest friends knew him best.

I never knew Gary in life, but I knew him for over 32 years in death.  I will explain...

In 1967, I came to know him in a very strange and "special" way.  This "special" way I have told and wish to share in greater detail in my "Trip for Healing." You can read it by clicking on the Button below.  

I am hoping some of his friends will come forward and give a detailed history of their experiences with Gary. The above picture, his Senior Class Portrait, from the 1963 Stylus, the Glendale High School Year book, was provided by George Mason, a former classmate of Gary's. I wish to heartfully thank George for his desire to help me in this way, to create this Memorial to Gary, so that he will never be forgotten.

As far as how and why I feel about Gary... Though I have never met him, I can only say that, because of that strange connection to Gary, over the passing years of my mis-guided mourning of him, that I have come to feel like I am his friend, and wish to nurture this friendship for the rest of my days.  It is for this reason that in 1996, I entered the Locked Garden of Honor  in the Court of Freedom, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in Glendale, California, and put a bouquet of flowers on his niche, and sat there in silence and in prayer, talking to him and to God, and wishing him well.  I also vowed then and there, that I would continue this brotherhood till I, myself,  am no longer in this world, and until the day that I will meet him in person, in that sweet place where he continues his Life today. God bless you Gary Nelson,  those of us who love you, will never forget you.

Gary Nelson... this could have been me, or anyone in the 6th Grade,
but it was
Gary. He had all the same hopes and dreams as any other kid. He loved baseball, going swimming, and climbing trees, making tree houses and playing dirt lot baseball, and tag football. He was, after all a real boy!

These are pictures of Gary, from his class pictures taken in the 6th grade at Verdugo Woodlands School, in Glendale California.  These photos remind us all how young, and innocent we were as kids.

Look into those eyes; they would eventually see misery and death in a far away place he probably never heard of at the age of 12.

9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (Aug 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975) and 2,594,000 served in the country of Vietnam and where  more than 58,202 never returned home. Gary was one of them. See the Vietnam Statistics Page for more details

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A Warrior's Affirmation

Read about my return trip to California, a Trip for Healing.

Wall Database Loss Data

Wall Database Information supplied by The Vietnam Casualty Search Page

--- General / Personal ---

Last name: NELSON
First name: GARY NELS
Home of Record (official): GLENDALE
State (official): CA
Date of Birth: Sunday, December 24, 1944
Sex: Male
Race: Caucasian
Marital Status: Single

--- Military ---

Rank: CPL
Serial Number: 2062763
Component: Regular
Pay grade: E4
MOS (Military Occupational Specialty code): 0351

--- Action ---

Start of Tour: Unknown/Not reported
Date of Casualty: Saturday, June 4, 1966
Age at time of loss: 21
Casualty type: (A1) Hostile, died
Reason: Other explosive device (Ground casualty)
Country: South VietNam
Province: Quang Nam
The Wall: Panel 08E - Row 007

Leave a Memorial to CPL Gary Nels Nelson...

Password = Common word of 4 letters for Vietnam War Memorial

A Message from one of Gary's Childhood Friends

A Newspaper Clipping of a Letter Gary wrote to his friend Craig Cook

A Copy of Gary Nelson's Obituary

Other Gary Nelson Memorials

This Page will not print well, therefore, we have provided a Printable Page

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Visit Memorial to Stephen Golsh, 101st Airborne Division
KIA Ashau Valley, South Vietnam 21 March 1970

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