Commentary: A New Stone for Charley

Bill Ivory, left, a classmate of Charles R. Trescott, John Ernst and Mike Rowan, vets of Gulf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, gathered April 21, 2017, at Arlington Cemetery to commemorate Trescott’s new gravestone. (Photo courtesy Bill Ivory)

Three generations of the Trescott family gathered April 21, 2017, at Arlington National Cemetery, to commemorate the new gravestone listing the Silver Star for the late Charles R. Trescott, a veteran of the Vietnam War. (Photo courtesy Bill Ivory)

Relatives of the late Charles R. Trescott stand at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., near his new gravestone that lists the Silver Star awarded for his heroic actions on May 3, 1966, in Quang Tin Province in South Vietnam. (Photo courtesy Bill Ivory)

Bill Ivory, left, a classmate of Charles R. Trescott, John Ernst and Mike Rowan, vets of Gulf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, gathered April 21, 2017, at Arlington Cemetery to commemorate Trescott’s new gravestone. (Photo courtesy Bill Ivory)

Three generations of the Trescott family gathered April 21, 2017, at Arlington National Cemetery, to commemorate the new gravestone listing the Silver Star for the late Charles R. Trescott, a veteran of the Vietnam War. (Photo courtesy Bill Ivory)

Bill Ivory is a Vietnam War veteran who served with 1 st Marine Division in 1967 in Da Nang. He lives in Kensington, Md.

That life on this day remains the primary focus doesn’t mean certain tasks remain unaddressed ad infinitum. For the family and friends of one Navy petty officer, opportunity to carve a noble inscription provided opportunity to revisit a brief life well lived.

Charles R. Trescott died heroically on May 3, 1966, in Quang Tin Province in South Vietnam, after leaving a covered position to aid a fellow Marine. We were classmates at Salesian Catholic in Detroit. We ran in different crowds but the relentless equilibrium wrought by alphabetical seating plopped us side-by-side, trading in day-to-day high school banter.

At graduation in June 1964, we crossed the stage of the nearby Rackham Memorial Building to receive diplomas. A traditional hinge point in American life completed, we shook hands and strode off to experience the mystery of whatever may come next. I knew he served in the Naval Reserve, which filled me with vague notions of him soon sailing the oceans blue.

I can’t recall how word of his death came to me. I suspect a dear aunt and family herald provided the alert. Each morning Elaine scoured, as if holy writ, the obituary pages of the Detroit Free Press.

At his wake, held at one of the area’s longest-serving funeral homes, Charley lie in repose between the Stars and Stripes and the Navy flag. His dress uniform hardly obscured the fact that at the time he remained still too young to vote. Turns out, he served as a medical corpsman attached to a Marine infantry platoon. My assumptions of life cruising the high seas now obliterated, an ominous sense welled in me akin to the gray emissions oozing from […]