This page is dedicated to the memory of our good friends who could not be with us but they will always be with us in our memories, in spirit and in our hearts.
(The obituaries that we have follow this list.)
*Jeanne Capocci Galbo
*Allison "Sunny" Kelly
(We would like to add information about everyone. If you can help us, please send obituaries, or anything else, to the Contact Us link and we will post it.)
Souren Richard ("Rick") Nepola, 72, of New Britain, Connecticut, and formerly of Darien, Stamford and New Canaan, passed away on April 7, 2022, in New Haven, Connecticut.
Born in Stamford, Connecticut on July 8, 1949, Rick was the devoted son of the late Salvatore Richard Nepola, DDS and late Dorothy E. Nepola née Terzian, formerly of Darien and New Canaan.
Rick was a member of Darien High School class of 1967; then graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University in 1971, with a BSBA degree in Business and Finance. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1976.
For over 40 years, Rick was a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and American Bar Association. He practiced law, worked for American Lawyer Media and other corporations, and also did pro bono legal work for underprivileged people, friends and family.
A proud Democrat, Rick spent a lifetime volunteering on many political campaigns and advocating for national and international issues.
For several years, Rick faithfully served as an usher and on the Missions and Social Outreach committee as a member of The Congregational Church of New Canaan. He was a former member of the Noroton Presbyterian Church in Darien and attended the Armenian (Orthodox) Church.
As a precious brother, cousin, uncle and friend – Rick was beloved and esteemed for his noble, gracious and kind character, fun wit, deep faith, loving kindness, and strong work ethic. He loved music and the arts, travel, playing tennis, competing in the Boston Marathon, and once hiked Norway's mountain range on his own.
Rick is survived by his sisters Noreen Christon, Nancy Fox (Randall) and Ninette Halpin (Mark); his nephew Tzaras Christon (Sarah) and niece Alexa Christon (Michael Clark); his great-nephew Souren Christon and great-nieces Caroline Christon, Leonor Christon and Phoebe Clark; and cousins Virginia Butler, Tamra Butler (Tye Conklin), Emma Conklin and Everett Conklin.
The family will receive friends at Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien, Connecticut on Monday, May 9, 2022, at 11:00–12:00 noon. Funeral service will follow in the chapel at Noroton Presbyterian Church, officiated by the Rev. Brandi Drake. A private burial will take place at Lakeview Cemetery in New Canaan.
Memorial donations or donations in lieu of flowers may be made to Connecticut Legal Services (free legal services to the needy) by either donating online at www.ctlegal.org or by mailing a check to CLS, 62 Washington St., 4th Floor, Middletown, CT 06457.
Robert Hughes of Woodbury, passed away on November 21, 2021 surrounded by his loving family. He was the beloved husband of Cynthia Hughes.
Bob was born in Norwalk, CT on March 21, 1948. He was the son of Edward and Shirley (Nutting) Hughes. He grew up in Darien graduating from Darien High School and attended the University of Bridgeport. He pursued a career as an HVAC Engineer and was a Senior Project Manager.
Bob's greatest joy was his family and spending time at the family cottage in Maine. In addition to his loving wife Cindi, Bob is survived by his daughter Laura of Woodbury, and his son Matthew of Marion, NC; Matthew's wife Alyssa; and sweet granddaughters Camryn and Kya (with a third grandchild due in April). He is also survived by his brothers Brian Hughes of Otisfield, ME and his wife Kim; David Hughes of Waterford, CT and his wife Karen; and Mark Hughes of Elizabeth, NC and his wife Barbara. Bob is also survived by many adoring nieces and nephews.
Bob was an active member of North Congregational Church in Woodbury, serving as head of the Personnel Committee for many years. He also volunteered at the Woodbury Food Bank and delivered meals for the Meals on Wheels program. In addition, he drove the senior bus for the town of Woodbury where he was loved by all of his passengers.
Bob will always be remembered by family and friends as a loving, kind, and gentle man who was a rock for his family.
A celebration of Bob's life will take place at a future date with burial in Maine next summer.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Woodbury Food Bank, or to Woodbury Community Services. To leave a message of remembrance, please visit www.CarpinoCares.com.
from The Brewster Theater Company
Friends with a song and a smile are the most difficult to lose. When they leave us, we recognize how much joy they brought to our lives. Curtis Watkins was a long-time actor, singer, and friend to the Brewster Theater Company. We will miss him dearly.
On our stage, he was always there. Whether it was a cabaret with a fun costume or a mainstage show as a dapper butler to a forgetful woman he always made us laugh and warmed our hearts with his voice. His hard work to entertain our community was evident. When we needed help he showed up, when we needed a voice he sang and when we needed a smile he gave it. It is difficult for many of us to say goodbye to such a longtime friend. We all wish we could have one more show with him.
It is with great sadness to announce the passing of our friend, Curtis Watkins. We miss his engaging smile, warmness, generous spirit, and song. We send our love to Cheryl.
William F. "Bill" Lord, age 71 of Trumbull passed away Sunday, November 1, 2020 in his home. He was the husband of Diane M. Hession Lord for 33 years. Born in Westchester, NY, he was the son of the late Roy and Elizabeth Powell Lord. Bill was a graduate of the University of New Mexico and was employed by New York Life Insurance as an agent for over 30 years. In addition to his wife, Diane, he is survived by his son Samuel William Lord, daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Lord, sister, Frances Lord and brother, Thomas Lord. Bill was a man of generous spirit who was filled with endless love for the people in his life. He never failed to put a smile on the face of everyone he spoke to. He will be dearly miss by all who knew and loved him. Private services will be held at Trumbull Congregational Church. In lieu of flowers please make a contribution in his memory to The Bridgeport Rescue Mission, 1088 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06605 https://bridgeportrescuemission.org/give-now/ To send online condolences, please visit www.redgatehennessy.com
Larry was a successful entrepreneur and gave back to the communities in which he lived. He was an amazing companion and husband to Byllie Ann. Lovingly referred to as the "silverback" in the family, Larry was adored by his twin Jane, his children Alicia and Nikki, son-in-laws Gavin and Casey and grandchildren Cailin Jane, Hana Lawrence, Teagan and Wyatt. Together Larry and Byllie Ann began and nurtured four separate companies, traveled extensively and donated their time to help others. But they both felt there was nothing more important nor satisfying in life than the love of their family. It all began back in 1964 at the Sugar Bowl in Darien and continued for more than fifty years. In March of 2015 at the age of 65 Larry passed away suddenly from a brain aneurism. He was genuinely one of "the real good guys" of this world and he is truly missed by so many.
Donald Kenneth Wilks, a long time resident of Darien and Rowayton, died at his home in Darien this Sunday afternoon, June 13th. The cause of death was complications of cancer first detected in September 2003. He was 55 years old.
Don and Patrick, 2001
Don went through the entire Darien school system, graduating second in his class from Darien High School in 1967 where he was also captain of the newly formed soccer team. He went on to Harvard University where he majored in economics and engineering, was a member of the track team, and graduated in 1971.
Following graduation, he joined Wilks Scientific Corporation where he helped develop a line of portable gas analyzers which became widely used for OSHA compliance testing. Don later organized the company’s European manufacturing and sales facility in Milton Keynes, England frequently traveling to continental Europe to support foreign agents.
In 1980 he joined General Analysis Corporation where he designed a beverage monitoring system for the soft drink bottling industry. Eventually, more than half of the Coca-Cola and Pepsi bottling lines throughout the world were equipped with the monitors he designed. Don left as President of General Analysis Corporation to join SensIR Technologies in Danbury ,CT where he was a Senior Engineer and again doing what he loved so much – designing analytical instruments.
Don assisted in the development of SensIR’s line of infrared microscopes and their Homeland Security White Powder Identifier which came into great demand following 9/11. In spite of his illness, with his typical tenacity, Don remained active up until the end. Alone, in February of 2004 Don’s name was listed by the U.S. Patent office as a co-inventor of a mid-infrared spectrometer attachment to light microscopes.
Don was an avid sportsman, enjoying many winter and summer activities. Having grown up on Long Island Sound, he had a particular passion for the water and was happiest sailing out on his boat, “Connecticut Yankee” which he kept at Wilson Cove Yacht Club in Rowayton where he was a member. His wife and son had many happy days and nights out on the boat with him. Don was also a member of Wee Burn Country Club in Darien where he enjoyed playing golf.
Donald is survived by his wife, Maureen FitzPatrick Wilks; their son, Patrick Donald Wilks; his mother and father, Laura and Paul A. Wilks of Darien; his brother, Mark H. Wilks of New London, NH; his sister Sandra Wilks Rintoul of Boulder Creek, CA, and sixteen nieces and nephews.
We have a request from Maureen Wilks, the widow of Don Wilks:
I am writing as the widow of Donald K. Wilks (DHS class of 1967 and Harvard 1971). Don died peacefully at home in 2004 in the home we built with Jay Condon's expertise on Hollow Tree Ridge Road. Our son, Patrick D. Wilks, attended Ox Ridge, Middlesex and Wooster Academy before Portsmouth Abbey, RI. Patrick is currently a 2nd year student at College of the Holy Cross in MA and plans to be a teacher. If anyone has any happy memories of Don to share with Patrick it would be gratefully forwarded or send directly to him.
Maureen: firstname.lastname@example.org Patrick: email@example.com
Joan Keller Brakeley passed away on October 27, 2013 at Presbyterian Cornell Medical Center. She was born in Princeton, NJ in 1949 and raised in Montreal and Darien, Connecticut. She was preceded in death by her parents, Roxana and George A. Brakeley, Jr., a noted philanthropist, and her sister Linda Smith Terry of Essex, CT.
Joan, an artist, attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and continued to paint and draw throughout her life. She was also Founder & President of JKB Daira, which services the defense industry, and is a nationally ranked pistol shooter. In recent time, she moved from Pound Ridge, NY to Menlo Park, CA to enjoy the Pacific beaches and time with her “grandson” Ezra. It is during her time in California that she was able to focus her energy on her art and walks on the beach. During her final days she was surrounded by family and loved ones. Joan will always be remembered for her infectious laugh, laid back style, kindness and artistic perspective.
Donations can be made in her memory to the American Cancer Society.
Stephen Bayless passed away 2 years ago.
Victor R. Benzyk of Darien, CT, died at his home on Sunday, April 27th, 2008. He was 59. He was born in 1948 in Stamford, CT, the son of the late Charlotte Rife and Victor R. Benzyk, Sr.
Victor was a lifelong Darien resident. He graduated from Darien High School as a member of the class of 1967 and then went on to attend Monmouth College in Illinois.
He spent the first 26 years of his career working for Southern New England Telephone Co. and was involved in the union there for several years. He retired in 1996 and fulfilled a personal goal by starting his own company, Phoneworks, a year later. Victor was truly happy having the freedom to attend every single one of his kid's athletic games.
'Mr. B' was an avid sports fan known around town for his die hard attendance of any and all sporting events even after his children moved. Victor was a longtime dedicated volunteer and officer for Darien Little League. He loved baseball in every shape and was a lifelong Yankees fan. He played golf recreationally throughout his entire life and in his later years, and became a passionate Duke basketball fan who never missed one of their games.
He'll be missed very much by family and friends. He could always be counted on for his compassionate heart, or a joke to bring levity to any situation. He touched more people than we'll ever know.
Victor is survived by his wife of 26 years, Susan Browne Benzyk, and two children that he proudly sent to Duke, his son, Charles A. Benzyk and daughter, Amy E. Benzyk. In addition, he is survived by two sisters, Charlotte Fletcher of Leesburg, FL and Lee Starr Benzyk of Danbury, CT. He had a brother who predeceased him, Joseph Anton Troneck. He was also a beloved uncle to seven nieces and nephews.
Friends may call at the Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien on Thursday, May 1st, 2008 from 4:00 to 8:00 PM. A Funeral Service in celebration of his life will be held at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 1896 Post Road, Darien on Friday, May 2nd, 2008 at 11:00 AM. Interment will follow at Spring Grove Cemetery, Darien.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in his honor to the Darien Little League, P. O. Box 2108, Darien, CT 06820.
Claire Wilson DePalma
Claire Wilson DePalma, wife of John T. DePalma, died Jan. 27 surrounded by family and friends, after a brief illness.
Daughter of the late Lloyd Macy Wilson and Barbara Tompkins Wilson, she was born June 15, 1949 in Paris, France.
Mrs. DePalma was a graduate of Darien High School. She attended Colorado Women’s College and earned her bachelor’s degree at Mississippi University for Women.
Claire was an adept business woman whose employers included Raytheon Corporation in Jeda, Saudi Arabia and Control Data in Greenwich, Conn., her family said. She also spent time as the volunteer treasurer of The Darien Nature Center, an organization that was founded by her father. She was a partner of Alden Associates and 121 West Main Associates, both of Milford, Conn.
Mrs. DePalma volunteered at both Greenwich and Milford Hospitals and with the youth mentor program of the Bridges Organization of Milford. She was an avid gardener and especially loved traveling with her husband to visit with family.
She was an inexhaustible champion of education and learning for all of the young people whose lives she influenced, her family said. Her greatest triumphs include an installation of reading, writing, vocabulary and learning that will live on in her nieces, nephews and stepgrandchildren; an installation that will serve them all for the rest of their lives by making them clearer, more particular, more specific thinkers and communicators.
Besides her husband, she is survived by her sister, Barbara Wilson Smith; brothers, Bruce Tompkins Wilson, Douglas Osbourne Wilson, and Lloyd Dennis Wilson; nieces and nephews, Adrienne, Celeste and Arthur Wilson; Hope East, Julia Rhodes and Dennis and Keith Wilson; Margaret, Jeffery and Wilson Smith; Michael and Elizabeth Wilson; stepchildren, John T. DePalma Jr., Lydia Gates, Kathleen Anderson, Marianne Capozzi; and grandchildren, Kelly DePalma, Joseph Anderson II, Kathleen Anderson and Samantha Capozzi.
Services were private. A memorial celebration is planned for late spring.
Memorial contributions may be made to Bridges Organization, 949 Bridgeport Ave., Milford, CT 06460.
Catherine Patricia Cusack of Brookings, Oregon, formerly of Darien, Connecticut, died December 26, 2011. She was 63. Pat is preceded in death by her parents John H. Cusack, Catherine Cusack and her brother Andrew Cusack. Pat is survived by her son Rolf Cusack, her two grandchildren, her brothers, Don, Mike, Larry and her sister Mary Ellen. Her beauty inside and out will be missed by all who knew and loved her. A private family service will be held in Oregon.
John Stewart Okie, local artisan, died on Monday, July 16, 2007 in his home in Newcastle.
He was born in Darien, Connecticut in 1948 to parents William and Louise Okie, attended Boston University and Curry College, studied ceramics and received a bachelors' degree from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Mr. Okie founded, and was the creative force behind, the successful Wiscasset-based Sheepscot River Pottery which has operated at multiple locations along the coast of Maine for more than three decades. His pottery reflected his personality and talent with brilliantly colored opalescent glazes and widely popular local motifs. His pottery graces the homes of countless admirers in Maine, New England and across the world.
He enjoyed spending time on the ski slopes, or on the waters of the Maine coast.
An exceptional natural athlete, as a young man, he played hockey for Darien High School and Boston University. He excelled at many sports including skiing, surfing, biking, boating, wind-surfing, and hiking. He took up surfing at the age of 55 and enjoyed trips with his son Johnny, to Popham Beach. Around Wiscasset, Mr. Okie could often be seen riding his bike on the seven-mile route to the pottery shop, with his beloved dog, Schatzie, perched in her front basket. Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Karen; his daughter, Rylan; his son, Johnny; his brother, Ted Okie; and his sister, Louisa McKown.
Scott T. Sutton, a 25-year resident of New York City and a former Darien resident, died Friday, Dec. 20, at the Richard L. Rosenthal Hospice Residence at Stamford Hospital. He was 53. He died of cancer, according to his family. Born Feb. 15, 1949, in Cincinnati, Ohio, he was the son of Thomas C. and Jayne A. Sutton of Darien. Mr. Sutton graduated from Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. He was the retired owner of Norrelcom of Long Island. He was a longtime member and former president of the Campfire Club of America, Explorers Club, Boone & Crockett Club, Ducks Unlimited, National Rifle Association, Woodway Gun Club and the Blue Hill Troop. He was an avid outdoorsman, explorer and fisherman. In addition to his parents, he is survived by a sister, Leslie L. Sutton of Darien. There are no calling hours. A prayer service will be held 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, at the Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road Darien. The Rev. Michael Madden of St. John Church in Darien will officiate. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Cancer Center or the Richard L. Rosenthal Hospice Residence, c/o The Stamford Health Foundation, 2015 W. Main St., Stamford, CT 06902. Please specify on the check where the donation should be allocated.
Georgine Peterdi Jenkins
Georgine Peterdi Jenkins (AKA "Mummer") Passed away peacefully of cancer on Sun., Feb. 4, 2007 in San Rafael, CA. She had recently celebrated her 58th birthday with her daughter's family. Born in Paks, Hungary in 1949, she emigrated with her parents (Georgine and Marton) and brother (Marton, Jr.) to the U.S. shortly after the 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet oppression. The family settled in Rowayton, CT, where they were generously sponsored by a family from St. Luke's Church. Georgine's work life included various secretarial positions, most recently for Tele-American of Stamford, CT. Georgine had moved almost a year ago to Mill Valley, CA, from Atlanta to be near her daughter, Alexandra Hoeber Jenkins, and son-in-law, Michael Hoeber Jenkins, who were expecting their first child. For five months prior to her passing, she gave her grandmotherly all to her new grandson, Nathanial, whom she called "Angel Heart." Georgine will be remembered for her extraordinary compassion for others, even as her own health declined. Her favorite quote, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, is excerpted as follows: "...To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." In addition to her daughter's family, Georgine is survived and greatly missed by her cousin, Adele Harvey; her great uncle, A. John Peterdi, and many other family members and friends. A celebration of her life will take place in Vermont in May, and loved ones will be notified of it in advance. In memory of Georgine's life and in lieu of flowers, the family ask that donations be sent to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, Office of Development, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607-1460 or call 1-800-241-4438.
Charles King Campbell Jr., a resident of Ridgefield since 1998, died peacefully at his home on Thursday, October 14, from chondrosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer. Sandy, as he was known to family and friends, was beloved for his kindness and gentle wit, and admired for the fierce, quiet determination he brought to his 18-month battle with his disease. Born in Evanston, IL, on May 13, 1949, son of the late Charles K. and Phyllis (Lord) Campbell, he graduated from Brown University in 1971 and earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1976. As a partner with the Stamford firm Pullman & Comley, he was an expert in land use law and a mentor for younger professionals. His personal integrity and skill before municipal commissions and in the courtroom earned the respect of colleagues and opponents alike, as did more than a decade of service as Vice-Chairman on the Ridgefield Zoning Board of Appeals. He worked to overcome significant local opposition to establish the Greenwich Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) in 1989, and spent many hours in negotiations with the town of Greenwich to secure that city's first contract for emergency services. Mr. Campbell also served as the first chairman of the group's board of directors, and told family and friends that his work with GEMS was his proudest civic achievement. Mr. Campbell, along with his first wife, Sandra T. Campbell, was also a driving force behind the creation of the Greenwich Teen Center at Arch Street, which still serves as an important resource for the community. A nearly lifelong relationship with Camp Agawam in Raymond, ME culminated in Mr. Campbell's service as the first chairman of the board of the Agawam Council when it was formed in 1985. He would later count the legal work that preserved Agawam as it is, a place which instills timeless values in successive generations of young men, as among the most important of his career. Mr. Campbell married the first love of his life, Sandra Taylor Campbell, in 1971, and the couple was thereafter known, memorably, as Sandy and Sandi. After being widowed in 1990, he devoted his time to caring for his three children, taking on the mantle of a working, single father. As an accomplished musician, Sandy took joy in the guitar in his younger years, and in his later years, discovered new hobbies in birdwatching and aquarium keeping. His family recalls that he found beauty in the natural world, and satisfaction in the simple acts of daily work, like cutting firewood for the winter hearth. With an easy smile and open heart, they say, he shared his love lavishly with those he cared for, never restrained and never self-conscious. Perhaps Mr. Campbell's greatest joy, those close to him said, was in becoming a grandfather nearly ten years ago. When illness found him, Mr. Campbell faced a series of difficult surgeries, and the loss of his left leg, with what those close to him describe as stoic courage, and concern for everyone but himself. His sense of humor in the face of suffering was both a comfort and a powerful example, they said. Mr. Campbell is survived by his sisters Sally Jones, of New London, NH, and Judy Carter of Cumberland Foreside, ME, and two grandchildren, Emily Shimek and Miles Shimek. He also leaves behind his eldest son Charlie, of Brooklyn, NY, daughter Sarah, of Colchester, VT, son Jonathan, of San Diego, CA, and his wife Anne Dayton. He found in her a new spark of life that brightened and expanded his world, and the two were joined in the final weeks of his life, after more than a decade of burgeoning love. He will be profoundly missed. A memorial service to celebrate Mr. Campbell's life will be held on Saturday, November 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the United Church of Rowayton, 210 Rowayton Ave. in Rowayton, CT. He requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Sandra T. Campbell Memorial Fund, Agawam Council, 6 Fundy Road, Suite 100, Falmouth, ME 01405, an endowment established by Mr. Campbell to provide camperships for disadvantaged boys. Arrangements by the Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah St., Ridgefield.
Maureen Nunez Adams passed away on May 16, 2000 at the age of 51. She was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Andover, MA with her parents. Our thoughts are with the family.
David Ives Mixter
Rank/Branch: Sergeant/US Army
Home of Record: Darien, CT
Unit: Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group Special Operations Augmentation Command and Control Central
Date of Birth: 22 January 1949 (New York, NY)
Date of Loss: 29 January 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 143726N 1072554E (YB619180)
Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
On 29 January 1971 Sgt. David I. Mixter was a rifleman assigned to a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) inserted into the very rugged and isolated jungle covered mountains to seek out and report on enemy forces operating in this region. The team's location was roughly 18 miles west-southwest of Dak To, South Vietnam; and approximately 2 miles west of the Lao/South Vietnamese border, Attopeu Province, Laos. This is near an area frequently referred to as the "Parrot's Beak" in the tri-border region where the borders of South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia meet.
At 1400 hours, Sgt. Mixter's patrol made contact with an enemy force of unknown size. Immediately B40 rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) were fired at the team, one of which exploded directly in front of Sgt. Mixter. Shortly thereafter he was checked by the team leader who reported that Sgt. Mixter's chest was covered with blood and he did not respond at all.
Because David Mixter was thought to be dead, his body was left behind when the rest of the team broke contact with the communists. The remainder of the team managed to successfully evade during the ensuing running gun battle and was ultimately safely extracted.
A search and recovery (SAR) team was inserted into the ambush site the next day. They found and recovered some of Sgt. Mixter's possessions, but they found no trace of him. Further, they found no signs of a freshly dug grave in the immediate area. No additional search attempts were made due to continuing enemy activity in the area. David Mixter was listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered in spite of the fact that the enemy troops were not known for removing the bodies of American dead.
David Ives Mixter E5/US Army Special Forces Hometown of Record: Darien CT Date of Birth: 22 January 1949 (New York NY) MIA: 29 January 1971
Vietnam Wall Panel coords 05W 068
MACV-SOG, or Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (though it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. These teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.
"Behind The Wall"
By George "Sonny" Hoffman
David Ives Mixter (Mix) stood tall in the ranks as a Green Beret should. He had a rough complexion, a bit pocked. With a little more meat on his bones he'd have been a bad-looking dude. Though he was tall, Mix wasn't bad. He was a soft-spoken gentle giant who laughed easily but rarely made anyone else laugh. Practical jokes, rubber barf, and gags were more his style. His virtue was generosity. He would give you the shirt off his back. Mix would share his last buck with you and was always good for a short-term loan.
I liked having Mix in our group. He looked like a Green Beret, even in civies, and made bad guys think twice before messing with us. In a fight, however, he'd be a liability. Mix was gangly and a fast opponent could slap him silly before Mix could land a blow. That's just conjecture, because we never had to fight. I often called him "Dumb Shit." I did so, not because he was dumb, but because I could. Calling a big man a dumb shit was like yanking a lion's tail when only you know he's just a big pussy cat.
I ran into Mix at the beginning of my second tour. We were both in the same Recon outfit at CCC and didn't know it. For two months, his team and mine were never in the camp at the same time. We crossed paths while crossing the compound in opposite directions. We just stopped and stared. "Mix?" "Sonny?" You get the picture.
We talked for hours. We had so much to catch up on, so many friends we had to exchange information about. Mix had been running recon longer than I had and was full of useful tips. He was dismayed that I hadn't found time to have a recon shirt made. "You have to have a good recon shirt, man."
A recon shirt is a jungle fatigue jacket with the bottom pockets removed and sewn on the sleeves. This made the blouse easier to tuck in. The bottom pockets are useless when web gear is worn, and recon men can't get enough pockets. You keep as much on your person as possible. His was a lucky recon shirt, he explained. The Yards put some magic on it. We all had lucky something-or- others. Mix had a lucky recon shirt.
Mix's team was on stand down--no missions for the foreseeable future, a time to train, heal, replace lost men. RT Montana, my team, was on our way to Long Thanh for a week of training in preparation for a POW snatch mission. The mission was to launce from there, and we were due to leave that day--no time for a recon shirt, or a Yard magic potion. Mix insisted I take his.
That's one thing you don't do--take a guy's lucky something-or-other. You don't hide it, mess with it, steal it, or borrow it. The luck is his, anyway. If he hadn't told me it was his lucky thing, I'd have accepted the shirt without much thought. Borrowing from Mix was an old habit. My credit was good with him. He was relentless about my taking his shirt. The mission we drew was a tough one. I'd be going on it with no recon shirt, and a good recon shirt was something you had to have, he repeated. I took the shirt.
I was wearing that recon shirt when I met Frank Celano at Long Thanh, when I suddenly felt the need to take a nap. Our POW mission was a dry hole. We got hauled out and returned to Kontum. I was not looking forward to my return. I'd have to tell Mix about Frank. He'd be happy that the luck in his shirt saved one friend. Mix would look on the bright side, and he'd find the luck working on his behalf.
I went in search of Mix with his cleaned shirt in hand. My first query left me cold. Mix took a B-40 rocket in the chest. The team had to leave his body. Mix was an MIA, but absolutely dead.
Here's what happened:
His team had to pull reaction duty because there were no operational teams that weren't already deployed. Normally, the reaction team, like the fire department, just hangs out at the ready. The NVA shot down a fast mover (a jet) over southern Laos where Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam come together. The area was always hot. They went in to look for the pilot and ran into bad guys right away. A brief, intense firefight broke out between the team and a very large NVA unit that was maneuvering to encircle them.
Mix was hit in the chest by a shoulder-fired B-40 rocket. Some said the rocket hit him in the chest, others said it hit right in front of him while he laid prone on the ground. In either case, his chest was a mess and he was unresponsive. His team leader took one look and knew he was dead. Every Yard that saw him said likewise. Mix was too big to carry and staying would doom the entire team. Since he was the only loss, the team leader made the decision to leave his body and try to get the team out.
Ordinarily, a team leader that leaves a man is ostracized, even if he saves lives doing so. I don't think anyone faulted him under those circumstances. He got his team out under extremely difficult conditions, and leaving Mixter made that possible. Mix would have made them go if he were conscious. I know he would. He couldn't, because he was dead.
He was dead because an NVA soldier fired a B-40 rocket at him. You couldn't convince me of that until recently. He died because I had his lucky recon shirt. I survived the war because I stole it from his family.
The proper thing for me to do at that time was to turn in his shirt so that it could be returned to his family with his other personal effects. I let the picture of Frank's girl go, and regretted doing so. I kept the shirt. The shirt was, indeed, lucky.
When I stood before Mixter's name on The Wall, we talked about the shirt. No, I didn't talk out loud. People would think I was nuts, but we talked. He laughed when I apologized for taking his lucky shirt. He said he had three of them, and that all that bullshit about being lucky was for my benefit. I told him I kept it when I should have turned it in for shipment home to his family. He said they didn't send any field uniforms home. I told him I wore that shirt for years after the war. I wore it until the material would not hold together. He thought that was pretty funny.
I don't care what that dumb shit Mixter says; that was a lucky shirt.