American Legion Holly Post 149 welcomed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Moving Wall, to Holly for the first time last week. A key element of The Moving Wall, a half-scale model of the actual Memorial in Washington, D.C., is seeing visitor’s reflection engraved with the names of 58,318 Americans who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. The experience connects the past and present at the memorial.
The theme for The Moving Wall, “Reflections I” was brought to Holly by a committee composed of veterans, business people and citizens. The event co-chairs are Vietnam Veterans Joe Mishler and Rick Powers of the American Legion Holly Post.
One of the names on The Moving Wall is of Roy McGee.
According to the front page article of the Feb. 1, 1968 Oxford Leader, McGee was “First Oxford man killed in Vietnam.”
The first paragraph in that lead story read, “A month of tragedy ended for Mrs. David Oxsher, 1940 Lakeville Road, when she was notified by the United States Army that her 18-year-old son, Roy McGee, was killed in Vietnam, January 29. He would have been 19 March 3.”
According to the article, “Roy had attended Oxford Area Community Schools. He left the ninth grade to Join the Army. While with the Army, he continued his education and Mrs. (Sally) Oxsher said that he told her that he had completed his high school education and was to receive a diploma.”
She told the Leader, “He didn’t have to go to Vietnam. He was stationed in Okinawa when he volunteered for Vietnam duty. At the time, he told me he was needed there.”
The first notice that Oxsher had of her son’s death in Ninh Thuan Province, South Vietnam came from Pontiac Reserve Army Sergeant Lewis on Jan. 30, 1968.
Lewis’ visit to her home on Lakeville Road was followed by this telegram: “The secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep regret that your son, Private First Class Roy McGee, died in Vietnam on 29 January, 1968 as the result of metal fragment wounds. He was found at Motor Pool. Circumstances are unknown. Investigation in process. Please accept my deepest sympathy. Kenneth G. Wickham Major General USAF60, the Adjutant General.”
In 2017, one of our reporters, David Fleet, tracked down McGee’s sister Caroline Haddock for an interview. “He was just so sweet, left-handed and an awesome artist,” Haddock, now a resident of McMinnville, Tenn, said. “He felt it was his duty to serve his country. Roy came down to Nashville where I was living at the time and stayed with me for two weeks before he left for Vietnam. I was the last (family) to see him alive. He told me he was going to come home in a wooden box. Right after that I took him to Fort Campbell. He hugged me tight. It felt like he did not want to let go. Like this was really good-bye.”
“He wrote letters to me and described the jungle as hell. It just ripped my heart out.”
It took two weeks for Roy’s body to come back home to the United States, added Haddock.
“To this day we still don’t know the cause of death,” she said. “The last letter he wrote to me he described the heat in Vietnam and was working in the motor pool. We think a hand grenade, and maybe a faulty pin.”
The 1968 Leader article ended with this statement, “The Oxshers, who moved to Oxford six years ago from Troy, suffered another tragedy January 13 when their mobile home burned. With the loss of their home, Mrs. Oxsher also lost the only picture that she had of her son. Attempts at the time to recover the picture from the burning building failed.”
— Don Rush, David Fleet