Gerald W. Wilcoxen
U. S. Marines
Dates of Service: 06/15/1967 - 06/27/1969
Rifleman, 3rd Marines Regiment
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Born in Houston, Gerald has spent most of his life in Louisiana. He is now a resident of Keachie. His parents were Hazel Pauline Martin and his stepfather, Lloyd Harvey Wilcoxen. He graduated from Woodlawn High School in 1967 "between Terry Bradshaw and Joe Ferguson," he says, referring to two great college and pro quarterbacks the school produced. Gerald had one goal in life: "I always wanted to be a Marine," he says. He enlisted in a Marine reserve unit before graduating from high school and then upon graduation entered boot camp in San Diego. Even today his 9-week USMC basic training still guides his life. He salutes the NCO cadre who pushed him so hard. "Oh, I thank them for making me the man I am today. I mean, to a large degree, they gave me a can-do attitude, instead of an I-can't attitude." He completed boot camp in August of 1967, then another 10 weeks of advanced training. He arrived in Vietnam in November of 1967. At Phu Bai he was placed in Fox Company 2/26 of the 3rd Marines. In early 1968, during the enemy's Tet Offensive, his unit was flown to Khe Sanh, a place that lay across North Vietnam's major infiltration routes. One of Vietnam's largest engagements was soon underway. The battle lasted 77 days," he says. He calls the NVA "some of the best soldiers in the world at that time." The battle of Khe Sanh ended in the spring of 1968 and Gerald went on R&R to Japan during the Cherry Blossom Festival. In December of 1968 he returned to the States and to Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina and was discharged in 1969. In May 1970 he married Martha Ambrose. They would have three children: Bridget, Mike and Catherine, and three grandchildren. With his GI Bill he completed school and eventually went into business for himself.