DELMA LEE REED, CORPORAL, USMC, SWEETWATER, NOLAN COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Bronze Star with “V” device, Purple Heart with Gold Star, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Vietnam Military Merit Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal
Delma Lee Reed was born in Sweetwater, Texas to Ruth Reynolds and James Alton Reed. His brother, Nelson was three years older. The family lived in Sweetwater until Delma was four years old. His parents divorced and his mother took the two boys and moved to Trent, which is just over the county line in Taylor County from Nolan County. His mother married Alvin Hogue of Trent and Mr. Hogue helped to raise the two sons. Delma attended Trent schools. In 1950, a younger half sister, Beverly Hogue was born.
Delma was well liked by every one who knew him. He was cordial, at times quiet, but spoke his mind. He fought for the under guy according to his family. He was not afraid of work and always looking for a way to make money through work. While in high school, he played football and lettered three years. He was the starting center his last two years before graduating in 1963. He married Barbara McElhaney of Sweetwater in 1964. Barbara could not remember where or when they met, as he lived in Trent and she in Sweetwater, but she indicated once she met him, she knew he was the man for her, even though he was three years younger. She stated he was the sweetest, kindest man she had ever known, then and now.
Delma and Barbara-1965
Delma's mother stated Delma had a strong work ethic and was strong. “He never met a stranger,” according to his mother. “He worked for Dwayne Watson in Trent, after school fixing flats. He would get 35 cents per flat. His friends would laugh at him, but Delma would say ‘I have 35 cents, but you don’t have any money.”’ Mrs. Riney continued, “his friends would then want a free ride with him to go to Merkel and he would tell them. ‘You can ride for 35 cents.’"
Trent Letter Jacket-1st Letter-Late Winter-1961
Delma's brother, Nelson served in the Marine Corp and when Delma knew he was about to be drafted he decided he would rather spend his two years in the service as a Marine following in his brother's footsteps. Nelson and Barbara and the family tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined that he could be a good Marine as well. He enlisted in the Marines Corp on two year enlistment in September, 1965.
He completed boot camp at the Marine Corp Recruit Training Depot at San Diego, California. He, then completed ITR at Camp Pendleton, California. He had stateside duty, then shipped to Okinawa and then joined B Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, "The Walking Dead", in Vietnam. He was wounded in serious fighting in December 1966, receiving his first purple heart. On July 2, 1967, his company was the lead element in "Operation Buffalo" to route out NVA troops who were infiltrating the DMZ near Con Thien. His company walked into a regiment of NVA who were waiting on them. He was killed by gunshot while engaged in the battle. At the end of the day, only 27 members of Company B walked out of the battle and only 3 members of his platoon survived. He was one of many from his company who died in the battle. He was two months from completing his two year enlistment.
He was buried with full military honors in Sweetwater, Texas. He was the first casualty from Trent, Texas and the community turned out in force for his funeral, which was conducted at the First Baptist Church in Trent. The people in the community traveled around the area to Sweetwater and Abilene to locate miniature American flags to line both sides of the path to his final resting place at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Sweetwater.
Trent High School Fall 1962
Marine’s Death Brings War Home to Trent Folk
By John Fisher
Reporter-Abilene Reporter Telegram Intern
Baylor University Student, dtd July 5, 1967
TRENT-To most Americans, the Vietnam War seems to be a million miles away until a tragedy brings it closer to home. Such is the case with the West Texas community of Trent.
Until early Saturday morning the war seemed to the people of Trent to be far removed from reality. On Saturday morning, Trent learned that Marine Cpl. Delma Reed had been killed in the fighting in Vietnam.
He was killed when he stepped on a mine Friday while on a patrol with the Marines near Da Nang, South Vietnam. Funeral for the 22 year old Marine will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in the First Baptist Church in Trent, with burial in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Sweetwater.
Delma had just returned to the fighting after being wounded on last Christmas Eve. At that time he was one of the few men in his platoon to escape alive.
“When I heard of Delma’s death, it didn’t seem to be real. Even though you expect something like this to happen,” said Buddy Boyd, Trent postmaster.
“It makes you realize that there is really a war going on in the world. “ he said. “Everybody keeps up with the war to a certain extent, but this makes us think more about it.”
Another Marine from Trent, Jerry Heatley, came home Saturday after being wounded near Da Nang. Jerry and Delma were good friends while they were in Trent, but never saw each other in Vietnam even though the two Trent men were stationed only 12 miles apart in the Da Nang area.
Heatley said, “I remember Delma as a quiet boy whom everybody liked. It was something you just didn’t expect to happen and it really shocked me when I heard of his death.”
The deep sorrow of the town is openly demonstrated by several U.S. Flags in the town that are being flown at half mast. Unlike larger towns that seem to have organizations to supply flags for such an occasion, the people of Trent had to go out and look for flags to display.
The 1963 graduate of Trent High School was one of the most well liked boys in the small community, said Mrs. Carl Edwards. “He was a kind, gently boy. He longed to get back and get to work again.”
“Delma wanted to be in the this small community which is just one big family.”
He was married to the former Barbara McElhaney of Trent, who now lives in Sweetwater.
Mrs. Edwards said, “We worry about unimportant things in our lives in the States, but something like this makes the boys who are giving their lives for our freedom.”
Delma's younger cousin, Robert Edgar Lackey, also of Trent, Texas was killed in Vietnam serving with the 101st Airborne in 1969.
Delma was survived by his wife, Barbara, his mother, his brother, Nelson and his sister, Beverly, also his father, James Alton Reed. His step father passed away in 1965 prior to Delma entering the Marines.
Barbara remarried five years later and has a daughter, Brandi. She is divorced now and states she has never found anyone to compare to Delma. She lives in Anson, Texas. Delma's mother lives in Merkel, Texas and is still active. His step father, Alvin Hogue passed away in 1966 prior to Delma entering the Marine Corp. Delma's mother remarried in 1967 prior to Delma's death and now uses the name of Ruth Riney. Mr. Riney passed away in 1993. Delma's father lives in a nursing home in Snyder, Texas.
Garden of Memories Cemetery, Sweetwater, Tx