A Father, A Son, My Brothers

"Reunited" Cloyde Senior and Cloyde Junior (C) 2008 Timothy C. Cummings
Cloyde Senior and Cloyde Junior
(C) 2008 Timothy C. Cummings

May 12, 1967 The Republic of Vietnam – PFC Cloyde Pinson Jr., USMC, lost his life when his patrol was overrun by North Vietnamese forces while on night patrol. His father, World War II veteran and Air Force retiree Cloyde Pinson Sr., learned of his son’s death on the car radio as he was driving home from work. He refused to believe it until he turned the corner on the street where he lived and saw a gathering of cars in front of his house.

He had tried to talk his son into joining another branch of service rather than the Marine Corps. Cloyde Junior replied “Dad, I’m going in the hard way”. No slacker was this young man, one of over 58,000 who lost their lives in a war that tattered the fabric of his homeland. Cloyde Junior’s body was sent home and his family buried him in the Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas.

Decades later Cloyde set his energies to establishing a new resting place for his nation’s combat dead and veterans, all the while knowing his remains would not rest there. After all, he was going to be buired next to his son, at Laurel Land. On May 12, 2000, after fifteen years of championing its creation and thirty-three years to the day his son became a combat casulty, Cloyde dedicated the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in a ceremony amongst it’s pastoral setting and gentle hills.

Fittingly, Cloyde Junior’s remains were moved on April 12, 2006,  and in a quiet recommital service, were interred at the top of a hill in the cemetery his father was influential in creating. After the service, Ken Watterson, vice commander of the Marine Corps League and vice chairman of the Texas National Cemetery Foundation said  he thought Cloyde Junior would be the only Vietnam War serviceman who was killed in action to be buried at this National Cemetery.

Cloyde Junior’s childhood friend Jay Kimbrough rode his motorcycle 545 miles that morning to be at the service. In 1967, he was also a Marine in Vietnam and was going to escort Cloyde’s body to Texas for buiral at Laurel Land but was seriously injuried in battle and unable to carry out that solemn duty. At the graveside in the National Cemetery he called Cloyde Senior “a giant for vets”. A newspaper account of the service ended it’s coverage by saying “that giant will now be able to rest near his son in the cemetery he birthed.” All present surely believed that was still years in the future.

Two days after attending the reinternment of his son, Cloyde Pinson Senior died. He is buried at the top of a hill at the Dallas – Fort Worth National Cemetery. Directly adjacent to his resting place is a recent addition to this honored parcel, PFC Cloyde Pinson Jr., United States Marine Corps.

These combat veterans – this father and son – lie in honored remembrance side by side.

In their memory, I offer “An American Fighting Man”, based on the original Code of Conduct:

An American Fighting Man

I’ve raised my arm, an oath I’ve affirmed

to defend the American things I have learned

by skill or courage anyway I can

I am an American fighting man


In the Army I advance as directed

in the Marines, take objectives selected

I am on the sea, in the air and on land

I am an American fighting man


In the Air Force my effort takes flight

in the Navy I’m on station day or night

our armed forces work together as planned

I am an American fighting man


In the Coast Guard I patrol our shores

but defense of America entails so much more

for the one who defends our land

is called an American fighting man.


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