Larry Belden 

PFC – E2 – United States Marine Corps
0331 - Infantry Machine Gunner
H Company, 3rd Platoon
2nd Battalion,
1st Marine Regiment

1st Marine Patch

Tour began on March 16, 1969
19 Years Old
Esbon, Kansas
November 10, 1949 to July 26, 1969

 

Steve Brothers remembers Larry...

I was with Larry the day he got killed.  He was truly a fine person.
That day has never left my mind.  I was one of those that made it
out alive.  I'm a member of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines.  We will
never forget.  I had the pleasure of meeting the entire Belden
family at one of our reunions.

 

These flowers were left for Larry by his parents and brother at
The Moving Wall when it was in Superior, Nebraska, September 2007.

Beldon Memorial 

 

A rubbing is left at the American Veterans Traveling Tribute
while it was in Beloit, KS, October 2001.

Rubbing 

 

The Kansas State University Vietnam
Veterans Memorial in Manhattan

KSU Plaque 

KSU Memorial 

KSU Memorial 

KSU Memorial 

 

The Jewell County News
Thursday, May 23, 2002

Marion & Wanda Belden 

Beldens make annual journey to
honor son's war sacrifice

Memorial Day is a time for honoring and remembering those who have died and
particularly those who died while in the service of their country.

As they do every Memorial weekend, Marion and Wanda Belden, Burr Oak,
travel to the cemetery near Smith Center to place memorial flowers on the
grave of their son, Larry Belden, who died 33 years ago while serving his country
in Vietnam.

Even though the years have passed, the memories are still vivid for them.  As Wanda
positions the flowers, she notices the small American Flag near the memorial marker
of her son and straightens it.

"He was a good boy, a polite boy and everyone liked him," she said.  She told of his
interest in fishing, hunting and working with his father on the custom harvesting run.

Larry developed a love of his country and recognized the duty to serve.  He heard from
his father, who had served in the Marines, about the Korean War.

The Vietnam War was escalating when Larry graduated from Esbon High School in
1967.  He decided to continue his education and in the fall began studying electrical
engineering at Kansas State University.

He observed student unrest toward the war and did not understand the viewpoint.  In the
spring of 1968 he broke the news to his parents that he had enlisted in the Marines and
would be leaving for duty that fall.  According to his father, he wished he could have talked
to him before he made his decision, to talk him out of it, especially when he learned
Larry had signed up to become a machine gun operator.

Wanda holds tight to a well-worn scrapbook containing letters from her son, photos
and other mementos.  "It was what he wanted to do.  That was his choice," Wanda said.
"He was brought up to be patriotic."

The Beldens have a daughter Beverly, a year younger than Larry, a son, Steven, who was
5 when his brother enlisted and who looked up to his older brother.

"Larry always said he was going so his brother did not have to," Wanda said.  In September
1968, almost 19, Larry left for basic training at San Diego.  "He was so good at writing
home.  We just about received a letter a week," Wanda said, as she opened the scrapbook
to reveal neatly written letters from her son.

From basic training he went to Camp Pendleton for further training as a machine gun
operator.  He returned to Jewell County for a 30-day leave with his family.

Wears uniform to school

The Beldens remember his pride in wearing the uniform.  He visited school one day,
dressed in full uniform, riding the bus with his little brother.

Larry Belden 

Many who were students tell the Beldens how they will never forget Larry's visit.
Wearing his uniform, he attended the local Marine Corps League meeting at Smith
Center with his father.  Marion adds, "He told me he didn't believe he would be
coming back home.  I didn't understand why he would think that, but he really believed it."

Larry returned to Camp Pendleton and was transferred to Japan.  He was a PFC,
serving with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 3rd Platoon, Company H.

His letters did not arrive back home regularly as they did while he was in basic training.
The family will never forget the letter telling them he was headed for Vietnam - Da Nang.

The Beldens tried to keep their life and daily living as normal as they could but it was
difficult.  They watched in horror the television news reports of the war.  Marion and
Wanda remember, it was during this period the war protests increased in numbers.
"Our soldiers were losing their country's support," Marion said.

Wants more letters, food

Larry's letters kept arriving with requests for more letters from family and
acquaintances, packages of Kool-aide, envelopes, paper, WD-40 and food items.
In his letters he tried to reassure his parents not to worry, then told of seeing
the flashes of gunfire at night and being without food while out on sweeps.

Larry told of not receiving mail for five to seven days and how a buddy was killed by
a booby trap with nothing left of his body.  "All we do is fight, go to shows and write
letters home.  I sure miss everyone," he wrote.

In April, he wrote of getting a few days off and his platoon went to China Beach.  Then
it was back to patrolling and continuous sweeping which usually consisted of 10
hours in the jungle, in all kinds of weather.

He wrote, "It's lonely out here.  I want more letters."

He received a combat action ribbon in June.  He wrote his family telling about the local
sites - seeing the native people riding the large water buffalo; the sadness he felt
seeing little children hungry, going through trash cans trying to find food.

Goes on last patrol

His last patrol was during what he termed Operation Pipestone Canyon.  His letters
arrived sporadically with promises of seeing the family soon.  He was counting down
the days of being in Vietnam.  In one of his last letters he told his parents he had decided
to turn down his R & R time.  "We are so short of men and guns to leave my team
right now."  July 19 the Beldens received his last letter.

Wanda remembers the day in July when she and Steven, returning home from town,
saw a Marine in full uniform step out of his vehicle and walk toward Wanda.
Sergeant Bailey told Wanda about the death of her son.

Marion was in the harvest fields of South Dakota and flew home as soon as he could
when he received the news.  In a report and several letters from his superior officers,
the Beldens were given the information about Larry's death, nine months before he was
to return home.

According to the reports, Larry was on duty, about 14 miles south of Da Nang when his
platoon was ambushed in a mountainous area.  He had carried many of the wounded
out of battle to safety and waiting helicopters.  After the machine gunner he was assisting
was shot and killed, Larry grabbed the gun and continued firing, allowing his comrades to
escape the line of fire.  He was shot in the leg, bandaged it and kept on firing.  Eventually,
he was killed by small arms fire and a grenade.

A full military funeral was held at Smith Center and for the Beldens, it was all a blur.
Later they learned Larry was one of 38 servicemen killed in action that day, July 26, 1969.

Buddies tell of bravery

In the next weeks, letters arrived for the Beldens from many of Larry's buddies, telling
them about his bravery and that he was a true Marine.

Through the years the Beldens have participated in many Vietnam War Memorial
dedications and traveled to Washington, D.C. as guests of honor at a reunion of Larry's
battalion.  They attended a dedication of a memorial placed on the campus of Kansas
State University.

Wanda said, "There were 33 from that college who died in the Vietnam War."

Recently they went to Salina to see the Vietnam War Memorial Traveling Wall - again.
Each time, Wanda does a rubbing, transferring her son's name from the monument onto
paper that she includes in her scrapbook.

The Beldens appreciate the fact the Vietnam Veterans are finally being given the
recognition they deserve.  "It was terrible what those boys came home to," Marion said.
Their recent project is helping to get a veterans memorial placed in Smith Center.

For the Beldens, part of their life will always be missing because of the death of their son,
but it helps when they still receive letters from his fellow Marines who have kept in
contact through the years.  Some of these men still remember and share with the
Beldens, "Your son saved my life and I'll never forget."

 

Larry's parents, Wanda & Marion, remember their son…

Dear Son:
     Larry, you are a very loving, kind person and always pleasant to be around. You enjoyed
life to the fullest and done everything the best you could. You enjoyed woodworking in
school and also following the harvest with your Father for 3 years. Larry's brother
Steve wrote the following for an English assignment.

 "MY UNSUNG HERO"
     My greatest unsung hero is a Friend, as well as a Brother, Larry Belden. Larry was born
November 10, 1949. This was 13 years before I was born. The first 13 years of Larry's life
and really more I know what was told to me. Larry went to a country school until the sixth
or seventh grade, then attended Lebanon school until his sophomore year then transferred to
Esbon and graduated in 1967.  I was born 2 months after his eighth grade graduation.
Larry was a loving and helpful Brother. He always helped or played with me. He willing
walked and sledded with me when I wanted him to and whenever he could.
     Larry started college at Manhattan when I started school at Esbon. Also is 1968 Larry
joined the Marines and fought in the Vietnam War about 4 months. He was killed July 26,
1969 by small arm fire. The rough details are as follows: Larry's platoon was down in a valley,
when attacked by Vietcong, the first machine gunner was killed, and Larry took over, he
was hit in the leg. He went back to some cover and dressed his leg, and then went back
to the machine gun. He tried to hold the Vietcong off so the others could get more cover.
Thus, Larry was killed; the thought that I would never see my unsung hero never again
raced through my mind. It was hard on Mom, Dad, my Sister, but I think I suffered more
during the years to come while I was at home. The idea that I would never have a
Hero or Brother to look up to and do things with, to help me with work and sports. I
know Larry gave his life so I would not have to go to war and fight. He gave his
life for his Country. This is why Larry, my Brother, is my greatest Unsung Hero of all time.
STEVE.

     Larry, you are a very Special Person to us and everyone who knew you. We are very
proud of you and truly miss you. You will always remain in our heart and we think of
you often. So, until we meet again in Heaven,
ALL OUR LOVE FOREVER,

MOM and DAD. Wanda and Marion Belden, Burr Oak, KS

 

While serving with the Second Battalion , First Marine Regiment, he participated in
Operation Pipestone Canyon, then went on Operation Dewey Canyon, (Additional
link to
Operation Dewey Canyon). Larry was awarded the following medals:

Combat Action Ribbon     Purple Heart     Vietnamese Service Medal     
National Defense Medal      Vietnamese Campaign Medal

 

Gene Schwartz remembers Larry…
denture@yahoo.com
Fellow Vet
We all miss you.

 

The Vietnam Veterans of Second Battalion, First Marines, remember Larry…
gpwalsh@mediaone.net

Your brothers of Second Battalion, First Marines honor your service and your supreme
sacrifice. You are one of our Heroes. Your comrades of 2/1 hold you in their hearts and
minds forever. Take your warrior's rest for a duty well done. Semper Fi, Marine!

 

If you would like to post your remembrance
about Larry, please
click here .

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