‘He felt it was his duty to serve his country’

By David Fleet


Sally Oxsher recalled her 17-year-old-son Roy McGee, an Oxford High School student, enlisted in the Army some time in late 1966.
“He didn’t have to go to Vietnam,” Oxsher told The Oxford Leader newspaper. “He was stationed in Okinawa when he volunteered for Vietnam duty. At the time, he told me he was needed there.”
The first notice that Oxsher had of her son’s death in Ninh Thuan Province, South Vietnam came from Pontiac Reserve Army Sergeant Lewis on Jan. 30, 1968.
Lewis’ visit to her home on Lakeville Road was followed by this telegram: “The secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep regret that your son, Private First Class Roy McGee, died in Vietnam on 29 January, 1968 as the result of metal fragment wounds. He was found at Motor Pool. Circumstances are unknown. Investigation in process. Please accept my deepest sympathy. Kenneth G. Wickham Major General USAF60, the Adjutant General.”
McGee is one of the 2,654 soldiers from Michigan on the Michigan Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial that will be at Good Times in Goodrich on Aug. 5. In 2005, Staff Sgt. Kurt Damrow of the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard created the memorial in memory of Navy GMG3 Oliver Damrow of Kinde, Mich. Damrow was killed in action during his second tour of duty in Vietnam.
The names are etched on five 8-foot panels spanning about 25 feet.
“He was just so sweet, left-handed and an awesome artist,” said Caroline Haddock, sister of McGee and resident of McMinnville, Tenn. “He felt it was his duty to serve his country. Roy came down to Nashville where I was living at the time and stayed with me for two weeks before he left for Vietnam. I was the last (family) to see him alive. He told me he was going to come home in a wooden box. Right after that I took him to Fort Campbell. He hugged me tight it felt like he did not want to let go. Like this was really good-bye.”
“He wrote letters to me and described the jungle as hell. It just ripped my heart out.”
It took two weeks for Roy’s body to come back home to the United States, added Haddock.
“To this day we still don’t know the cause of death,” she said. “The last letter he wrote to me he described the heat in Vietnam and was working in the motor pool. We think a hand grenade, and maybe a faulty pin.”
Unique to the Michigan Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial display are several notebooks that include pictures and other information about the soldiers. There are about 300 individuals on the memorial for which photos are still being sought.

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