I don’t really believe in coincidences… not when the subject is blatantly looking you in the eyes. Recently, while Googling for information on a province in Vietnam, I tripped across a piece about a young man named Dan Bullock. His headshot stared out at me from an oversized combat helmet. As I read the headline, I realized this was someone I wanted to write about. Someone I want the world to recognize.
Who’s Dan Bullock?
Born in the sleepy town of Goldsboro, North Carolina. After the death of his mother, Dan Bullock moved to Brooklyn, New York with his father, step-mother and sister at the age of 11. Living in a bad neighborhood, all he wanted to do was make his mark — make a difference in the world. He wanted to be a cop, a soldier… someone. Someone that could touch people’s lives in a positive way.
At the age of 14, most boys are riding bicycles, playing video games and discovering girls. Not Dan Bullock. At a whopping 14 years old, Bullock went into a Marine Corps recruiting office with his doctored birth certificate in-hand. He was recruited and went through bootcamp, graduating from the program successfully, albeit by a hair. His lack of stamina had his fellow recruits helping him along on the longer runs, but he refused to give up.
At the age of 15 years and 5 months Bullock was deployed to An Hoa Combat base located in the Quang Nam Province of Vietnam. Many in his unit noticed something was “off,” but no one could put their finger on it. They just knew he was somehow different, never guessing that he was still a mere child.
One fateful night in June of 1968, less than a month after his arrival on Vietnamese soil, a fierce battle took place. All of the troops began running low on ammunition, and this is when Bullock sprang into action. He ran back and forth, replenishing fighters with ammo, ensuring that they wouldn’t lose the battle. During one of these runs he was struck by enemy small arms fire, dying almost instantly. There were five deaths that night, and of the 45 men that went out, only 20 came back ambulatory. How many more would have died if it hadn’t been for the bravery of this remarkable young man?
The youngest U.S. Serviceman killed in action during Vietnam, Dan Bullock holds a special place in history. His name appears on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. and an engraved image at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Lower Manhattan. He has two streets named after him — one in Brooklyn and one in Hawaii. Yet, his name is unknown to the majority of Americans. This is a flaw in the writing of history. Regardless of race or religion or any other number of “labels” that mar our society, this young man should be recognized for what he is — the youngest war hero of the 20th century.
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Devin C. Hughes is currently Chief Inspiration Officer of ITLN. He’s the author of four books including Contrast: A Biracial Man’s Journey To Desegregate His Past, Self Talk, Moon Patrol & Agents of Change. Devin shares enchanting stuff on the topics of happiness, motivation, diversity/inclusion, change and productivity.