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2024 Southern Route Coordinator Say Their Names Newsletter

Welcome to the 2nd Edition of the Say Their Names, Tell Their Stories, Never Forget newsletter!

If you have a story you’d like to have highlighted, please let me know. Thank you, Carol Olmstead, for the information contributing to both the 1st and 2nd Edition of this series.

The story behind the song “My Son” – October 1968.

“My Son” is a song written and recorded in October 1968 by American country music singer Jan Howard. It is among several songs recorded by country artists during this period that related to the Vietnam War. The song is based on a letter Howard wrote to her son, Jimmy, who was drafted into the war. Her second son (Carter Howard) and Bill Anderson inspired Howard to record it. Upon showing the letter to Owen Bradley, he insisted that she record it. Recording the song in a single take, it was released as a single in November 1968 as “My Son”. Howard received over 5,000 letters from soldiers and their families following its release. “They said they felt like it was for them,” Howard commented. The song was later nominated for Best Female Country Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards After. Listen HERE.

Howard had sent the song to her son after its release. Before he could write back, he was killed in battle. At the same time, “My Son” became a major hit on the country charts in the United States, reaching number 15 on the Billboard Country Chart. The recording later appeared on Howard’s 1969 self-titled studio album. Since its release, “My Son” has been considered among Howard’s signature songs. In later years, the song also has also been featured in documentaries that discuss the Vietnam War.

On October 30, 1968, at the age of 21, Corporal James Van “Jimmy” Howard was KIA by a landmine in Quang Nam, Vietnam. Carter Howard, Jimmy’s brother who was also serving in Vietnam, escorted Jimmy’s body home to Madison, TN.

Jan Howard subsequently released the album “For God and Country,” in memory of Jimmy. Her ongoing performances, appearances at Veterans Day parades, and visits to VA Hospitals and veterans’ homes helped her win the 1992 Tennessee Adjutant General’s Distinguished Patriot Medal, the 2005 Gold Medal of Merit Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the 2010 Eagle Rare Life Award for Leadership. But her commitment goes further back, to the conception of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“Because of Jimmy’s death, I was contacted to help raise money for them,” she recalled. “At the request of Jan Scruggs (president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, who served in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade from 1969–1970 as a corporal), I went to Washington, D.C., along with several high-ranking military officers, to raise money for the fund. Radio stations gave their time, and I went around the country to do radiothons: People would call in and pledge money. What really touched my heart was when they pledged their Social Security checks. All of it, from hard-working people everywhere, went into building the Wall.”

Jan Howard passed away on March 28, 2020, at the age of 91. After Jimmy’s death, Jan truly Lived a Life Worthy of His Sacrifice!

Lyrics to “My Son”

My son my son I pray that you’ll come home to me my son my son
It seems only yesterday the most important thing on your mind
Was whether you’d make the baseball team or get the new school jacket
Like all the other kids had
And I remember how your eyes lighted up when you got your first rod and reel
For that big fishing trip just you and your dad
And I remember wiping the tears away when you hurt yourself on your sled
In those days it seems the house was filled with laughter and joy
Filled with your friends and they were all such good boys
And then came the day that you walked down the aisle
To receive that all important diploma
I was so proud, but I couldn’t believe that tall young man was my son my wonderful son
And then I remember the little girl that was always around kinda tagging after you
She’s not so little anymore but she’s still around who knows maybe someday
Then you received the call that I guess we knew would come someday
But it came so quick and now you’re so very far away
In the land that until a short time ago I didn’t even know was there
I know the time will pass you’ll be home again
But until that time my darling take care take special care
My son my son I pray that you’ll come home to me my son my son

Live a Life worthy of their Sacrifice!

Darin “Lurch” Koch
RFTW Southern Route Coordinator 2024

1 thought on “2024 Southern Route Coordinator Say Their Names Newsletter

  1. tears….Semper Fi, brother

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