By Noel Lyn Smith
Midland Daily News (Michigan)
SANFORD — The friends of Pfc. Joseph E. Robinson, the only Sanford resident killed in the Vietnam War, placed a new marker at his grave in the Jerome Township cemetery Friday.
It was to honor Robinson’s sacrifice and to present Robinson the ceremony that was missing from his 1968 funeral.
Robinson was 21 years old when he died March 21, 1968 from wounds he received when his base camp near Hue came under attack.
He was in Vietnam for four months and was assigned to Company B, 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.
The granite marker has Robinson’s name in black lettering, along with his date of death, the seals of the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division, and two American flags. The words, “Some Gave All,” “K.I.A.” and “Vietnam” are also written in black.
Representatives from the Sanford American Legion Auxiliary, the Blue Star Mothers of America Chapter 48 of Sanford, the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club, the Forgotten Eagles of Michigan and Sanford American Legion Post 443 were in attendance.
Sanford residents Jim Leigeb and Elliott Levely managed the fund-raising effort, which started in May 2006, to purchase the marker.
“He was a brave young man who fought for his country as hard as he could,” Leigeb said.
“Unfortunately, it took his life. I know Joe is being honored today the way he should have been in 1968.”
Levely, also a Vietnam veteran, remembers Robinson as a tough kid who lived with his family on Smith Street in Sanford.
Robinson’s mother died when he was young and his father was an alcoholic.
“He was my brother,” Levely said. “We were raised together … he was part of my family and now he is a part of our heritage.”
Pictures of the ceremony and of the marker will be sent to Robinson’s family in Ohio and California, Leigeb said.