“They came from Steele Creek, Huntersville, Myers Park, Mallard Creek, Mint Hill, the Westside, Matthews and all parts of Mecklenburg County. During the Vietnam War thousands of men and women from the county served our country and 105 gave their lives in the cause.” – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Vietnam Memorial, Thompson Park, dedicated Memorial Day 1989.
Among the 105 who gave the ultimate sacrifice was Sgt. Gerald Stancell, who was killed in action on Feb. 8, 1966, in Quang Tin during his second tour of duty in Vietnam. The talented son of Marvin and Emma Lou Stancell, Gerald was on a suicide mission with Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, when they were ambushed in the jungle. Some members of Charley Company survived and still get together at reunions.
Stancell’s name appears on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Charlotte; the state memorial located at mile marker 100 on I-85, which memorializes the 1,607 North Carolinians who lost their lives in Vietnam; and the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, which bears the names of the 58,000 Americans who died in the war.
The Vietnam War began on Nov. 1, 1955. As it escalated under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, the war in Asia streamed into the living rooms of Americans via television. Thousands of people, many of them young people, protested in the streets because they did not believe in the cause. After the war ended on April 30, 1975, under President Richard M. Nixon, Vietnam veterans came home, but not to the heroes’ welcome they deserved. The toll the Vietnam War took on surviving veterans still haunts many of them today.
Sgt. Stancell was one of a dozen men from Mint Hill known to serve their country during the Vietnam War. Among those who returned home were Baron Bartlett, Fred E. McAlister, Jr., Wayne Burh, James L. Miller, Jr., J. Thomas Black, Dwight M. Ross, Jr., Jerry D. Flowe, James F. Ross, Charles R. Griffin, T. Michael Higgins, and Walter S. Whitley, Jr. Following the example of their fathers and grandfathers when they returned from the world wars, these brave men resumed their lives. They pursued careers, had families, and made positive contributions to the community.