The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

April 1, 2014

Paying respects


Jay D. Zeiler of Upperville, Va., left, made a special trip to Palestine Monday to meet the family of a soldier killed in his unit while serving in the Vietnam War. Sgt. Clarence “Ray” Chaffin of the Slocum area was killed Oct. 29, 1968 at the age of 21 in an explosion deemed to probably have been a “booby trap” while serving with 1st Battalion (Mechanized) Fifth Infantry 25th Infantry Division on the Cambodia border. Zeiler, who was Chaffin's lieutenant in the unit, was injured in the explosion along with two other men. Zeiler spent the next several months in the hospital and was unable to send a letter to the Chaffin family, as customary when a soldier dies in service to the military. Zeiler found his sergeant's brother Joe W. Chaffin of Slocum through an Internet search and has been communicating with him for the past year. Forty-five years after the incident, Zeiler decided to make a special trip to Texas to meet the Chaffins. Pictured on the right is Slocum couple Joe W. Chaffin and wife, Judy, standing with Zeiler next to the veterans monument in front of the Anderson County Courthouse Monday afternoon. Clarence “Ray” Chaffin is the fourth name on the list of Vietnam soldiers killed from Anderson County on the monument. The sixth name, Ronnie J. Fullerton, is the brother of Judy Chaffin. He was killed at the age of 21 in action on Jan. 12, 1969. Joe W. Chaffin had just received his draft papers when he learned that his brother had been killed in action. The draft board chose not to send the second brother to Vietnam. Read more about this story in the upcoming edition of the Nfocus magazine, which will be published in May.

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