Vietnam, Pfc. Herman John Vollmer

May 28, 2010

Mary Vollmer: My story is about my big brother, Herman John Vollmer, who was born Sept. 25, 1947, in Sedalia. Herman had dark brown hair, which was the color of his motherís and he had an oval face more like his father. Herman was the oldest sibling in our family. He was a caring, adventurous brother, who was not afraid to learn something new.

I remember him as the big brother who taught us and helped us explore nature. Our favorite place was near an old abandoned homestead. We went through an open field to the creek bed and then to the homestead to see if there may be something new (for me blooming flowers and wildflowers). In the creek bed we would look for fish, frogs and other water creatures.

Herman helped teach us swimming and what we needed to watch out for. We found the ponds nearby a great place to cool off in the hot summertime and learned about frogs, leeches, snakes and turtles.

When my brother received his driverís license and purchased his first vehicle, we were delighted. On Sundays, he would stop for milkshakes at the Tullis Hall on Fifth Street after church.

Our last time to talk with Herman was before he went into the military. Herman received his Selective Service Board papers to report on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 1966, for the military. My brother was leaving for military training in the U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood. He was then sent to Nha Trang, Vietnam, which he called home in his letters.

Henry Vollmer: He was a combat engineer for the Army. A telegram was delivered on May 4, 1967, informing our family that Herman sustained a traumatic head injury when a bulldozer he was operating tripped an enemy booby trap and exploded. He was clearing a section of jungle in southeast Asia for an American fire base. The entire Vollmer family was devastated.

He was sent to Walter Reed Hospital then to the Veterans Hospital in Kansas City. Later he was transferred to Fair View Nursing Home in Sedalia, where he remained comatose until his death on Oct. 23, 1968.

Hermanís name is inscribed on the Vietnam War Memorial, which is displayed at the Pettis County Courthouse. Numerous family members attended the ceremony commemorating that memorial on Veteranís Day, Nov. 11, 1989.

Hermanís mother, Martha Vollmer, indicated her desire to see Hermanís name added to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Family members gathered Hermanís military papers and located a section on one of the forms that stated his injury/death was a result of the act of war. That information officially qualified him to be included on the National Vietnam Memorial Wall.

With the assistance of Pettis County Chapter of Vietnam Veterans, Jim Gaertner, David Beaman, Robert B. Steward, lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Army Chief of Mortuary Affairs, plus Senators John Ashcroft and Kit Bond, Hermanís family was able to accomplish that task. Several family members, including Hermanís mother, were able to travel to Washington D.C., to attend that ceremony which took place on May 25, 1998.

During the ceremony, Henry Vollmer, one of Hermanís brothers, was chosen to read Hermanís name along with the other names that had recently been added. The Vollmer family pushed Hermanís mother in a wheelchair enabling her to attend the ceremony and view her sonís name on the National Vietnam Memorial Wall before her death a few years later.