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    A Widow's Story....

    Subject:The death of Marine Captain Richard Louis Basinger in the Vietnam war
    Written by his widow : Nelda Sue Shafer Basinger Ludwig

    Dick and I were married May 30, 1964 on a beautiful Memorial Day. After completing four years of college, Dick and I went to Columbus, Ohio where he was sworn in as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. His first orders were Pensacola, Florida, where he was to become a pilot. I became with child on the way to Florida, and nine months later we had a beautiful baby boy, Mark Randall Basinger on March 21, 1965.

    After flight training was completed, Dick was transferred to Camp LaJaun, North Carolina. Soon after he had orders for duty in Viet Nam. Mark was 17 months old when Dick left. It was a beautiful day; we had said our good-byes to everyone except our own special love was expressed in that morning before we went to the train station in Lima, Ohio. As we arrived and Dick was kissing Mark and I goodbye, there was a woman there who said, "I cannot stand to watch this", because she knew Dick was going off to war. The ironic thing was that five years earlier I had met Dick at that train station as a young girl of 18. I was now 23 and Dick would soon be 24.

    I said goodbye to my husband and went to my mothers, where we visited daily. Mark and I had an upstairs apartment. One morning in February of 1967, a Marine Corps officer came to my door and informed me that Dick had been wounded in his leg by shrapnel. Dick later called me to say that he almost got to come home. Mark had just turned two years old, and I thought to myself "what would keep Dick alive?" I tried to go on with my motherly duties attending to our son. We would talk to Daddy on the old fashioned tapes that we used to send back and forth.

    I was active in the Servicemen's wives club affiliated with the YWCA. My birthday was May 11, 1967, and on May 14 Mark and I were in a Loyalty Day parade in which we rode a wagon with the American flag made of flowers. The next day I attended church for Mothers day. The following day was May 16, 1967; Mark was in bed. I had always checked the front window before I answered the door since Dick had been wounded. This morning I did not check the front window. The door bell rang and I opened the front door. There were two Marines there. They said, "May we come in Mrs. Basinger". As we proceeded up the stairway I said to them, "Is he dead?" They replied, "Yes." My body went numb; I walked back and forth checking on Mark, not knowing what to do next. They complimented me on my behavior. I knew I had to call some people. I called my parents first and then Dad Lorain A. Basinger. Mama said, "Oh God, No" and ran to the fields to tell Dick's father.

    Within a half hour reality had set in and I realized that Dick was actually killed one day after my birthday May 12, 1967; they never told me until May 16, 1967. It was a very cloudy day. I knew I had to be a strong wife. I had been trained as a Marine Corps wife. I had to represent my husband in death for Mark and I. All that Mark remembers about the entire event is the color of the carpeting at the funeral home. He was so little, but he still sensed that something was wrong with Mommy.

    Dick's remains were sent to Lima and arrived at the same train station we had said our good-byes at nine months earlier. My brother, James Carl Shafer, my Dad, and Dad Lorain A. Basinger met the train; it was too hard for me to go. As they lifted the casket from the train, a very young Navy sailor saluted the casket as it went by him. My brother always said this was one of the most touching things. After the funeral on May 29, 1967, my brother took me back to the apartment. I looked out the window and said "what must I do with my wedding ring?" I took it off my left hand and put in on my right. I knew in reality it was over. My brother said, "there is nothing left to do." The government had sent Captain Gene Gruhler to escort Dick's remains and to look after me. This gave me the strength to face this tragedy.

    Captain Richard Louis Basinger has lived on in my heart for 32 years, and also through our son Mark, who is now 34. The love has come back to me through Mark's two daughters, Sara and Kari Basinger and their mother Amy. I am still very proud of our country, and honor the fact that I was a wife of a serviceman. I appreciate all that has been said to my son Mark, who is talking to many men who were with Dick in his Vietnam tour. All I can say is all the information gathered at this time is very, very SPECIAL TO ME AND COMFORTING. I did my best to raise Mark to believe in all the things for which his father died.

    Most Sincerely, Respectfully
    In honor of my husband,
    Nelda Sue Shafer Basinger Ludwig