Having now told the story of one of the two Babb’s who died in Service to their country during the Vietnam War, I found it fitting to do some additional research and tell the second story.
This brings us to Kenneth Alvin Babb. Kenneth hails from the Lineage we refer to as the Green Men of Maryland and appears to be the only child of Vernon Edward Babb (1915-1989) & Margaret Richard Lilley (1917-1992).
Kenneth’s live prior to the military seems to have been utopian. He served in a variety of church related functions that were ostensibly organized by his parents and went on to Letter in Football at his high school.
Kenneth started his tour of duty in Vietnam on 31 Dec 1965, just 5 days after his 19th birthday. However, he had been in the Service since 1964 serving in Germany until November 1965 when he volunteered for duty in Vietnam.
While in Vietnam he served as a Combat Medic (Medical NCO) and was assigned to Recon Platoon, Headquarters & Headquarters Co, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. He received a number of Medals in the course of his duties including the Gallantry Cross, Purple Heart and the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry” in action. Most, if not all, of these medals were awarded posthumously.
After piecing together several accounts, the story seems to go as follows:
Kenneth first entered the Army in June 1964. This means that his parents consented to his joining the army prior to his 18th Birthday which was on 26 Dec 1964. He studied and graduated from the Medic School at the Fort Sam Houston, TX in November 1964 after completing his basic training at Fort Gordon, GA. He was engaged in farming before entering the Army.
He served in Germany until November 1965 when he volunteered to serve in Vietnam. He arrived and began his duties on 31 December 1965. His life would end just 162 days later.
On 11 Jun 1966 while serving “a hand grenade was thrown; he shielded another man and was killed in this devotion to duty.”
A secondary account says he was killed in action by an enemy booby-trap. According to the Casualty Report he lost his life as a “result of metal fragment wounds to the head and both legs in hostile ground action.” The device might have been some form of “Bouncing Betty”, which was a gruesome and deadly form of a land mine.
It would have been the job of the Recon Unit he was a medic for to have cleared such landmines. He, apparently, shielded a brother from the shrapnel that took his own life. This indeed is gallantry to the extreme!
We owe so much to Kenneth and the brave people that serve in the Military. His life is a debt we can never repay.
In the moments after his death the 30th Field Evacuation Hospital in Ausburg, Germany named a new “Day Room” after Kenneth and dedicated it to his memory. The area seems to have been dismantled since then and I’ve not been able to locate any pictures of the Day Room at the time of this writing.
His remains were returned to his parents, and he was buried in Suffolk. His parents eventually joined him in adjacent graves as we see in this picture.