The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SGT Roger James Spence, who died in the service of his country on March 7th, 1969 in Pleiku Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Multi-Frag. At the time of his death Roger was 23 years of age. He was from Roselle Park, New Jersey. Roger is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 30W, Line 70.
The decorations earned by SGT Roger James Spence include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star with V, 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.
(From the Newark Star Ledger March 14, 1969.)
Two Jerseyans killed in Vietnam
The Defense Department yesterday released the names of two New Jersey servicemen who have been killed in Vietnam. They were identified as Sgt. Roger J. Spence of Roselle Park and PFC Dennis J. Coll of Springfield both of the Army.
Sgt Spence, 23, was killed in action last Friday, only a month before his 24th birthday.
A native of Camden, Del., Sgt Spence came to Roselle Park with his family 14 years ago. He graduated from Roselle Park High School in 1963, and went on to attend Wilkes College in Wilkesbarre, PA for three years.
He was drafted into the Army in September of 1967 and was sent to Vietnam last August.
Due to be discharged from the Army in September of this year, Sgt. Spence planned to finish college after his release from the service.
Sgt. Spence leaves his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Roy J. Spence, his brothers, Dennis 22, and Roy 8, and his sister, Pamela, 10, at home.
General Orders Number 3006 HHC, 4th Infantry Div, 12 June 1969
Bronze Star with "V" Device, Spence Roger J, Co D, 2/35th Infantry
For heroism in connection with military operations against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Sergeant Spence distinguished himself while serving as Squad Leader with Company D, 2/35th Infantry. On 7 March 1969, Company D was on a combat sweep operation in Pleiku Province, Republic of Vietnam. As the company moved up a hill, the enemy engaged the unit with machine gun and small arms fire, killing the point man and wounding several other men. Sergeant Spence tactically deployed his men, bringing effective fire on the suspected enemy positions, thus allowing the wounded to be extracted. At this time, gunship support arrived at the scene of contact. Realizing that the gunships would have difficulty determining friendly and enemy positions, Sergeant Spence took smoke grenades and crawled to within ten meters of the enemy bunkers so he could mark the enemy positions for the supporting fire. One of the smoke grenades, however, started a grass fire, forcing Sergeant Spence's squad to withdraw. Assuming command, Sergeant Spence chose to redeploy his squad, using fire and movement techniques. Sergeant Spence exposed himself to the rain of fire in an effort to direct his squad's movement, drawing the brunt of the enemy fire which resulted in his being critically wounded before he could fully achieve his objective. Sergeant Spence's personal bravery, outstanding performance, and exemplary devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders Number 6202, HHC 4th Infantry Division, 14 December 1968
AWARD OF THE ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL FOR HEROISM
For heroism in connection with military operations against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Sergeant Spence distinguished himself while serving as a Squad Leader with Company D, 2/35th Infantry, 4th Division. On 30 September 1968, Sergeant Spence's platoon was moving to the aid of two sister elements that were in contact with a large enemy force. Reaching the area of contact, Sergeant Spence noticed a wounded comrade exposed to the intense enemy fire. Sergeant Spence moved across a bullet-swept road to aid the wounded man. Realizing the man was in need of immediate medical attention, he carried him through the hail of enemy fire to a waiting medic. Sergeant Spence's concern for his fellow man, personal bravery, and exemplary devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
9041 Colgate Street
Indianapolis, IN 46268 USA
I remember Roger from the short time we shared in our fraternity. He was in Alpha Sigma Phi with us for a semester or so before going into the army. As a Vietnam veteran myself, I have been to the wall and seen Roger's name. Sorry that we didn't have more time together.
It has been thirty years, and my friend is always in my mind and thoughts. I met Roger in High School. I often remember the good times we had together on the motorcycles and over the Island. Always having a good laugh. At my wedding Roger was clowning around and having a great time. I left for my tour of duty the week after Roger was laid to rest.
Posted by: Tom Miserendino
Buried in Camden, Delaware. Camden is about 5-10 miles south of Dover, DE. Roger is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery. The Odd Fellows cemetery is located just east of the intersection of Delaware Rts 13 and 10 (This is Rt 13 not 13A) To find the grave from Rt 13 go to the main cemetery entrance off of Rt 10. When you enter the cemetery from Rt 10 the grave is straight ahead about 4/5ths of the way down on the left. There is a large family headstone that says Spence and then Roger's headstone is military one right behind it.