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Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge

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Title: Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge  
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Language: English
Subject: Charles McMahon, 1975 in Vietnam, Marshalltown, Iowa, Woburn, Massachusetts, United States Marines
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge

Charles McMahon (left) and Darwin Judge (right).

Charles McMahon (May 10, 1953 – April 29, 1975)[1] and Darwin Lee Judge (February 16, 1956 – April 29, 1975)[2] were the last two United States servicemen killed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The two men, both U.S. Marines, were killed in a rocket attack one day before the Fall of Saigon.

Charles McMahon, 11 days short of his 22nd birthday, was a corporal from Woburn, Massachusetts. Darwin Judge was a 19-year-old lance corporal and Eagle Scout from Marshalltown, Iowa.


  • Deaths 1
  • First and last American casualties in Vietnam 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


McMahon and Judge were members of the Marine Security Guard (MSG) Battalion at the US Embassy, Saigon and were providing security for the DAO Compound, adjacent to Tân Sơn Nhứt Airport, Saigon. McMahon had arrived in Saigon on 18 April, while Judge had arrived in early March.[3] Both died in a North Vietnamese rocket attack on Tân Sơn Nhứt on the morning of April 29, 1975.[4]

In accordance with procedures for deceased Americans in Vietnam, their bodies were transferred to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, nearby Tan Son Nhut. In telephone calls to the hospital on the afternoon of April 29, the few remaining staff advised that the bodies had been evacuated; in fact the bodies were left behind.[5] Operation Frequent Wind, the American evacuation of Saigon, was completed the following day, April 30, 1975. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, through diplomatic channels, secured the return of the bodies the following year.[6]

Lance Corporal Darwin L Judge was buried with full military honors in March 1976 in Marshalltown, Iowa. There was a flag draped coffin, a Marine Honor Guard, and a rifle firing salute. The flag that covered his coffin was folded and presented to his parents. His funeral was so ignored that major and minor media did not attend the event. The lone exception was the Daily Iowan (Iowa City, Iowa). A full set of photographs of the event is available. Due to ignorance of his military funeral in March 1976, Judge was given a second Marine burial honors 25 years later through planning by Douglas Potratz, USMC MSG who served with Judge in Saigon and Ken Locke, boyhood friend and fellow Eagle Scout;[7] retired USMC Lieutenant Colonel Jim Kean, the commanding officer of the Marines during the Fall of Saigon, presented a flag to Judge's parents at a ceremony held at the Iowa Veteran's Home Vietnam War Memorial.[8] The Fall of Saigon Marines Association, a California non-profit, public-benefit corporation, was formed to honor the last two Marines to be killed in action in Vietnam. The association sponsors two $500 scholarships for Eagle Scouts attending Marshalltown High School in Marshalltown, Iowa (as a memorial to Eagle Scout Judge).[9]

First and last American casualties in Vietnam

The first U.S. casualty in Vietnam was Flying Tiger John T. Donovan who was killed on May 12, 1942, but American involvement in Vietnam was not considered official at that time and as such his name does not appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.[10]

For over 40 years the first person who died in Vietnam was in controversy.

  • Fall of Saigon Marine Association
  • Tribute to McMahon
  • Tribute to Judge
  • Marine Embassy Guard Association
    • Honor Roll
  • Daily Iowan coverage of Darwin Judge funeral

External links

  1. ^ "CPL Charles McMahon". The Virtual Wall. 
  2. ^ "CPL Darwin L Judge". The Virtual Wall. 
  3. ^ Drury, Bob (2011). Last Men Out. Free Press. pp. 10–11.  
  4. ^ "The Long Last Day". CBS News. April 26, 2000. 
  5. ^ Major James H, Kean SSN/0802 USMC, After Action Report 17 April ~ 7 May 1975 p. 5 & 8
  6. ^ Dunham, George R (1990). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Bitter End, 1973-1975 (Marine Corps Vietnam Operational Historical Series). Marine Corps Association. p. 201.  
  7. ^ [3] Virtual Wall - Darwin Judge, include "Home Of Brave" by Bob Faw, NBC News, April 28, 2000]
  8. ^ [4] 25th Anniversary Observance, Marshalltown, Iowa, Fall of Saigon Marines Association]
  9. ^ "Vietnam hero finally honored". 
  10. ^ "First veteran classified as killed in country". 
  11. ^ Al Turco (June 2, 1999). "Fitzgibbon's name is on the Wall". Stoneham Independent. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Name of Technical Sergeant Richard B. Fitzgibbon to be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial". Department of Defense (DoD). November 6, 1998. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  13. ^ Lawrence, A. T. (2009). Crucible Vietnam: Memoir of an Infantry Lieutenant. McFarland. p. 20.  
  14. ^ Al Turco (June 2, 1999). "Fitzgibbon's name is on the Wall". Stoneham Independent. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 


See also

While McMahon and Judge were the last American ground casualties in Vietnam, they are not the last casualties of the Vietnam War (a term which also covers the U.S. involvement in Cambodia and Laos) recorded on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; those names belong to the 18 Americans killed in the Mayaguez Incident.

who were killed on July 18, 1959. Chester Charles Ovnand and Master Sergeant Dale R. Buis The former first two official casualties were U.S. Army Major [14] With this new date Fitzgibbon became the first person to die in the Vietnam War, Fitzgibbon's name was added to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in 1999.[13]

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