Barry Crawford has dedicated much time and energy unearthing details about relative Melvin B. Wright, and making sure his memory is not forgotten. This is Melvin’s story:
Melvin was born in Inverness in the Eastern Townships of Quebec on October 30, 1947. He joined the U.S. Army in March of 1965 when he was 17 years old, becoming a “cross-border warrior”. After serving inEuropeand thePanama Canal Zone, he volunteered for service inVietnam. He arrived in South Vietnam in November 1969 and was one of the last soldiers to leave at the end of June 1972.
At the end of June 1972, instead of returning to the United States he transferred to Thailand with the 46th Special Forces Company. Melvin’s Senior Commanding Officer, Retired LT. Col. Radtke, wrote of him: “Melvin was highly thought of by his peers and the command as a whole. We were fortunate to receive the very best the Army had to offer in their personal pipeline of replacements from both Vietnam and the United States. I considered myself fortunate to have commanded US Army Special Forces Thailand (USASFT). I was proud of all our troops and I was proud to have served as Melvin’s commander.”
Melvin served until his death near Lopburi, Thailand on October 13, 1973. He died during a parachute jump at Pawai Drop Zone, Lopburi, Thailand. He was only 25 years old. Melvin’s remains were brought back home to Canada, escorted by MSG Harry D. Brown (46th Special Forces). A Green Berets honor guard was sent from Fort Devens, Mass. Melvin received a full military funeral on October 23, 1973, and was buried beside his grandfather in the little country Adderley cemetery near Inverness, Quebec.
In 2006, I found the 46th Special Forces soldier who did the investigation into Melvin’s parachute accident back in 1973. 1SG Daniel McGinley, 46th Special Forces (retired) helped bring closure to the family and for that we are thankful.
Melvin was awarded numerous decorations while serving in Vietnam including the Bronze Star (twice), Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defence Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon w/Device, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and Thai Jump Wings. He already had earned his Master Parachute Wings, Rigger Badge, Sharpshooter Badge prior to going to Vietnam.
I have worked very hard, along with other supporters, to ensure that Melvin is never forgotten. His name can now be found on the Special Forces Wall of Remembrance at McDill AFB, Florida, and the In Memory Program, Washington, DC. It can also be found on the North Wall in Windsor, Canada listing all the Canadian-born soldiers who lost their lives while serving for the US military in the Vietnam War.