Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

City's Bloody Cost of War

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

City's Bloody Cost of War

Article excerpt

"Fifty years of remembrance does not dull the simple fact that 1,607 servicemen died in Vietnam during January of 1968," historian Richard De Lotto said.

CLIFTON — On the Vietnam War Memorial Wall's panel 35 east, row 73, are two prime examples of why the Tet Offensive, which began 50 years ago Tuesday, was the turning point in the war.

That's where you'll find the names of Spc. Louis Grove, a tanker, and Spc. Clifford Jones, a Green Beret, who died within an hour of each other at the opening of Tet, and who earlier in their lives had lived a few miles apart in Clifton.

"That always jumped out at me," said Richard De Lotto, a local historian.

Both Jones and Grove were 20 and had Clifton backgrounds and were among the first of more than 1,100 Americans killed during the battle, which began Jan. 30, 1968, and wound down near the end of February, he said.

Tet was the surprise offensive launched during the holiest holiday on the Vietnamese calendar.

It caught South Vietnamese and American forces off balance as they attacked province capitals and other strategic points throughout South Vietnam. While technically a defeat for North Vietnam, it had the effect of turning public opinion against the war.

Deaths like those of Jones and Grove, who had had the misfortune to be in the line of fire when some North Vietnamese and Viet Cong launched their offensive, made the war increasingly personal at home.

Grove was killed by a mortar round in Kontum, said De Lotto, a retired Clifton firefighter. Jones by small arms fire in Pleiku, he said.

Jones would be awarded the Silver Star posthumously and have a section of Route 46, out near Hackettstown, named after him. Jones had lived in Clifton for five years before his parents moved to Hackettstown.

Grove entered the Army after attending Clifton High School. Attempts to locate Grove's and Jones' families were not successful. …

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