The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PFC Duane Carl Scott, who died in the service of his country on September 29th, 1969 in Pleiku Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Duane was 20 years of age. He was from Friendship, New York. Duane is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 17W, Line 14.
The decorations earned by PFC Duane Carl Scott include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
The following tribute was written by John Bullock a childhood friend of Duane Scott. It can also be found on the website friendshipmoon.com. John has authored a book by that name. This site will give you a better idea of the environment that Duane grew up in.
Thank you, John for allowing us to use your thoughts about Scotty and American freedom.
Sweet Notes of Freedom
The sweet notes of the lovely ballad, Autumn Leaves, gently echoed over a picturesque valley below. On the edge of a hillside pasture, two boys grinned in amazement at the clarity of each note that had flowed from their brass horns. The last notes they had played came faintly back to them for several seconds, bounced from the rolling hill on the other side of the valley. Surely, some of the townsfolk in the hamlet below were hearing the music sweep over them. That carefree summer of 1964 was nearly perfect.
Jim and I had each taken music lessons for two or three years and the notes of that ballad were relatively easy to play. My trumpet and his baritone made beautiful harmony even though neither of us was what you would call musically gifted, but the acoustics of this special place rivaled the great music halls. Playing my horn today sounds so dull in comparison or perhaps my memory has enriched those ancient notes. I often long for sounds of that wonderful little town. Nestled in the foothills of the Alleghenies, near the New
York/Pennsylvania border, Richburg still harbors the rich sounds of rural life.
For the next couple years, as Memorial Day would usher in summer, I would be asked to play Taps at the Memorial Service, which was held at our cemetery. My folks had always proudly attended that ceremony. I remember the uniformed veterans firing a three round salute to fallen comrades. The odor of gunpowder and wisps of white smoke would surround the old soldiers. This was always the highlight of the service for me. Now I would be taking part in this big event.
For the most part the Richburg cemetery was a level expanse of land, except in the very back, where it sloped steeply into an area called Deans Flats. Taps were played from this embankment with the trumpeter out of view from the ceremony. The cue was the gun salute and at the end of three rounds that sad song would reverberate throughout the cemetery.
I believe it was 1965 when spring rain had threatened the service but the weather broke and things went on as planned. A crowd of about 75 people was present. My heart pounded in the excitement of the moment. A few minutes before the gun salute I discreetly moved to the slope and pulled my horn from its case. Then, out of habit, I pumped the valve keys up and down, making sure they would not stick. Actually Taps is played in its entirety with all the trumpet valves open but my nerves had momentarily defeated my common sense. The grass underfoot was still wet with rain. I positioned one foot in front of the other for a firm foothold on the embankment.
Pow! Pow! Pow! The rifles signaled my solo to begin. I waited for the last of the gunshot echoes to fade from the valley then played those distinctive three notes: G G C. I am not sure if I ever saw the actual sheet music but the third note of Taps is held for quite some time, probably as a whole note. Well, that third note got cut rather short that day, as I slipped to my knees on the wet grass, catching myself with one hand to avoid total collapse. In a state of panic I righted myself as best I could and kneeling in the grass I finished the solemn anthem.
Now back in 1965 I would embarrass at the slightest irregularity in my behavior. Once someone in the crowd spotted the wet, stained knees of my pants it would be all over. One question concerning this would trigger the crimson tide to invade my face, so, like any confident man-about-town, I cowered in the seclusion of that embankment. My family was waiting for me as I finally left my sanctuary, but I probably hid the soiled knees behind my trumpet case.
The decades have pretty much cured my embarrassment disease but they have not erased visions of simple, poignant moments, like these. Veterans at these ceremonies were from wars I had never known. Viet Nam had not yet personalized the concepts of international conflict, at least to this naive 15-year-old. Dad seldom spoke of the European Theater, B24s or World War II. And small-town America was nearly a Utopian society unto itself.
Over the next few years that feeling of security was shattered. Suddenly Viet Nam became very real, for it suddenly took away friends. Boys who had left the States carefree, often returned perpetually serious men, if they returned at all.
I had known Duane Scott since grade school. During our high school years we would often spend weekend nights cruising through neighboring towns in Scottys Jeep in search of any excitement we could find. More frequently than not that would include standing in front of the local pool hall for hours on end then dropping into the Sugar Bowl for a late night burger and bottle of soda pop. We would often drop the last of our change into the jukebox to hear Dylans thoughts on war or the Beatles message on how to avoid it.
A couple years later Scotty was in Viet Nam. We never talked about how he felt about going. I do not know why this was but we were just boys at the time and I suppose he felt it was the right thing to do in defense of our country. In the fall of 1969 Scotty was killed in that distant land.
Scottys younger brother Tom and I keep in touch now. Recently he shared with me details of his brother's death. In his words: While fighting for their country in Pleiku Province at a place known as Pleijureng, the 35th Infantry, Bravo Company 1st and 2nd platoon were ambushed. During the ensuing firefight, Scotty lost his life while putting himself in known harms way while attempting to rescue a wounded friend and fellow soldier. Although no greater heroic action has probably ever occurred, this scene has been repeated many
times over, during this and other wars by countless numbers of men who, like Scotty, fought under the banner of defending freedom for all.
As I sat with my family at this years Memorial Day Parade, in another small town, I could better understand and appreciate the sacrifices that bring tears of pride to many Americans eyes. The sight of an old soldier, struggling to wave at the crowd, from the back seat of a dolled-up Model T, choked me with emotion. I wanted to salute but guessed protocol might suggest only those who had served use this gesture, so I simply waved back. But a sense of gratitude filled me, for I realized how much he and so many others like him had risked. The freedom that we embrace did not come cheaply. I thank them for their sacrifice. Someday, I will trace the name of Duane Scott with my fingertip. It will be a private moment at the Wall. I will whisper: Thank you for the freedom, old friend, you are not forgotten.
(His BSM Citation)
The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to Private First Class Duane C Scott for distinguishing himself by outstanding meritorious service in connection with ground operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. For distinguishing himself by outstanding meritorious service in connection with ground operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Through his untiring efforts and professional ability, he consistently obtained outstanding results. He was quick to grasp the implications of new problems with which he faced as a result of the ever-changing situations inherent in a counterinsurgency operation and to find ways and means to solve those problems. The energetic application of his extensive knowledge has materially contributed to the efforts of the United States mission to the Republic of Vietnam to assist that country in ridding itself of the communist threat to its freedom. His initiative, zeal, sound judgment, and devotion to duty have been in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.