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Rest in peace, Darwin Judge
April 28, 2014 - Mike Donahey
Tuesday marks the 39th anniversary of the death of Lance/Cpl. Darwin L. Judge’s near the Tan Son Nhut airport, South Vietnam. Judge, who was born and raised in Marshalltown, was one of the last U.S. military personnel killed in the Vietnam war. Tragically, he perished with fellow Marine Cpl. Charles McMahon of Woburn, Mass.
Both were on guard duty at the airport when a North Vietnamese rocket struck their position. They died just hours before the beginning of the evacuation of Saigon, which ended April 30, 1975.
Mark Frank, of Sibley, who was Judge's Scoutmaster in Marshalltown Troop 310, reminds this writer annually of Judge’s death.
Frank wrote a letter to the editor about Judge several years ago.
It read: “Darwin was the type of boy who had questions for everything, wanting to learn and help other members of his troop. Let us not forget this young man and the freedom he stood for. Freedom does have a price and Darwin paid the ultimate for us.”
John Grindstaff, who graduated from Marshalltown High School in 1974 with Judge, said: “He was always devoted to his country and I attempted to follow his patriotism. I have always felt a deep sense of loss from his passing and that of my brother-in-law, who was also killed in Vietnam. He was a true hero and a great friend.”
Fittingly, a large color photo of Judge is displayed prominently near Marshalltown High School's main entrance. Additionally, a Marshalltown park on 12th Street is named in his honor.
Judge is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Marshalltown. His parents, Henry and Ida are deceased. Henry died in 2002, and Ida in 2011.
Thanks to a number of Marshalltonians, I was able to provide author, and former Marine and Vietnam vet Nick Mills of Cumberland Foreside, Maine, information about Judge. Mills wrote “The American Experience in Vietnam,” with mention of Judge and McMahon.
It will be published later this year.
Former Marshalltonian Steve Hansen of Spotsylvania, Va., was the Marine recruiter in Marshalltown and helped Judge enlist in the Marines.
Hansen has written extensively on Frank Lewis Glick, another Marine and Marshalltown native who was killed in France during World War I. The Frank L. Glick American Legion Post Number 46 was named in his honor.