- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) - Jane Witt doesn’t remember exactly who called and told her she needed to come home, but she vividly recalls the reason for the urgency.

Her son, Mark, had been killed while serving in Vietnam.

It was the summer of 1969. Witt was working at the phone company office in Norfolk at the time. Her husband, Clarence, was running the cafe in Winside, which they operated for 35 years.

Someone - the Wayne County sheriff or military personnel - had delivered the message to her husband.

She remembers thinking “that’s not my kid,” when she learned the news.

“I could not believe he had been killed,” said Witt, who now lives in Norfolk.

Mark Witt was born Sept. 17, 1950. He decided to join the military shortly after graduating from Winside High School because he wanted to get the service obligation behind him before continuing his college education, said his mother.

“His number came up, and he decided to enlist,” Witt said, referring to Mark’s draft number. “I really felt he was too young, but he was bound and determined. He said ‘I can’t get started on anything knowing this (the draft) may come up.’ “

As it was, Mark was continuing the family’s long tradition of military service. Mark’s father served in World War II, and his grandfather - Jane Witt’s father - served in World War I.

Mark Witt was with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry. He was killed on Aug. 31, 1969, when, according to the official report, he encountered hostile forces during a combat operation. He was just two weeks shy of his 19th birthday.

Today, Witt displays a photo of a smiling Mark decked out in his uniform - the forever young soldier who wanted to do his duty for his country before continuing with the life that he hoped was full of promise.

Witt thinks about him every day, she told the Norfolk Daily News (https://bit.ly/1r3UkTk ). And she doesn’t have to look far to see what kind of person he would have become. Mark’s brother, Steve, is just 13 months younger and shares many of Mark’s characteristics, Witt said.

“I see in my younger son what Mark would have been like,” she said.

Witt also has a daughter who is younger than Steve.

Mark Witt was one of three Winside men who died in Vietnam - and all of them were members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church there. Robert Wagner died on June 16, 1969, and Robert Dangberg died April 18, 1970.

Now, those three Winside soldiers as well as all others who died in Vietnam are being honored in a new exhibit called “Faces Never Forgotten.”

It is part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation’s website and an electronic display in the new education center at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington.

However, photos of around 160 Vietnam veterans from Nebraska are still needed for “Faces Never Forgotten.”

For information on submitting photos to the exhibit, visit www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces.


Information from: Norfolk Daily News, https://www.norfolkdailynews.com

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