vintage, nostalgia and memories


August 5, 2017

Dan Bullock: The Story of 15-Year-Old Marine Youngest American Killed in the Vietnam War

How many of you knew that the youngest American soldier to be killed during the Vietnam War was only 15 yrs. old? The minimum age for enlistment was 17 years-old with parental consent.

U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Dan Bullock is a name everyone should know, but many do not. The Brooklyn teen was just 15 years old when he was killed in action in the Quang Nam province of South Vietnam in 1969, making him the youngest American casualty of the Vietnam War. He enlisted after he doctored his birth certificate to join the Marines.

Dan Bullock doctored his birth certificate to join the Marines (© BETTMANN/CORBIS)

When you visit the memorial page for Dan Bullock, prepare to scroll through dozens of remembrances. Strangers, veterans, and loved ones have left heartfelt stories and messages of thanks in honor of a young man who lost his life too soon.

Dan is one of the more than 58,000 service members whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Dan is remembered on Panel 23W, Row 96.

This is his story.

Originally from Goldsboro, North Carolina, Dan moved to Brooklyn, New York with his father and siblings as a teenager. Unsatisfied with his living situation in New York and discouraged by a lack of opportunity, Dan searched for a better life.

In order to achieve this, Dan falsified the date on his birth certificate to read Dec. 21, 1949 in order to enlist in the Marine Corps. On paper, Dan was 18 years old.

He enlisted in the Marines on September 18, 1968 at just 14 years old. Dan was assigned to Fox Company, Second Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment as a rifleman. He arrived in Vietnam on May 18, 1969.

A photo of Dan Bullock while in Vietnam.

Dan was large in stature, standing at about 5-foot-9 inches and weighing about 160 pounds. However, Dan seemed to lack in endurance, most visible during boot camp. Despite his size, Dan was a boy in every regard.

Nearly one month after Dan was in-country, the 15-year-old was killed on June 7, 1969 as a result of small arms fire while on night watch duty, according to his squad leader.

Today, The Wall is where his story remains. His name is spoken from the mouths of volunteers, teachers, and veterans. His sacrifice teaches a nation why we should never forget. Visitors touch his name and feel the power of an unyielding legacy.

The name of Dan Bullock on The Wall in Washington, D.C.

So how did a boy have the will to put his life on the line for his country?

A remembrance left by Sandra Hoskins sums up the sentiments of many. “You did it for me, you did it for your father, you did it for the United States.”

Dan is buried in his hometown of Goldsboro, North Carolina. He is revered as one of the ordinary who answered his nation’s call for his fellow men and country.

His grave in North Carolina bears a stone paid for years ago by talk show host Sally Jesse Raphael.

(via Your Stories. Your Wall.)

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