CWO Doug Potratz USMC Retired

"Last Marine to die in Vietnam"

Front Row (L-R): Gary Mellinger, J.D. Sneed, Lamar Holmes, John Ghilain, Doug Potratz Randy Smith, Terry Bennington, Duane Gevers, Ken CrouseSecond Row = Ted Murray, Kevin Maloney, Steve Moore Larry Killens, John Kirchner, Bill Newell Colin Broussard, Mike Sweeny, John Valdez, Steve Stratton, Dean Kinzie, John Moya and Chris Woods.

From left to right:   Near the Vietnam Wall:   Sgt Bill Spruce, CWO Doug Potratz, ( Captain Quang X. Pham USMC) was evacuated by the Marines during the Fall of Saigon.  He later joined the Marines and became a chopper pilot for the Corps),  Sgt Gevers, Cpl John Ghilain and MSgt Colin Broussard

I will never forget the last Marine to Die in Vietnam. You probably don't remember that I was the only Marine in our unit to get "Office Hours" just before the evacuation for marrying my Vietnamese girlfriend. I got married at a police station in Saigon on April 4, 1975, the day Da Nang fell. Sgt Philip Babel and his girlfriend, Brandi, were the one American and one Vietnamese witnesses required by the local law to sign our marriage certificate.
 I remember the place was a bunker, it had sandbags all the way up to the second floor and a machine gun nest next to the entrance. The artillery shells were going off in the background during the ceremony. My wife gave me a bayonet for a wedding present, she was practical! I remember the last Marine to die in Vietnam, he was my "homey", Darwin Judge was from Marshall town, Iowa,

LCpl Darwin Judge

only about 100 miles from my home town in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I remember going to Ton Son Nut Air base in Saigon on April 21, 1975, the day President Theiu resigned and left the country.

South Vietnam's President Theiu

The compound was finally processing people for the evacuation of Saigon. L/Cpl Judge and Cpl McMahon were working security near the bowling alley, it was a staging area and the people were sleeping on the lanes of the bowling alley. I had spent half of the day trying to get my new wife and my four year old step-daughter on a flight out. I was tired, I was about ready to scream because of the red tape that the State Department was still putting up in our way. L/Cpl Judge came up to me and said, "Sgt Potratz, I know the guy who fills out the plane manifest, give me your paperwork and I'll get your family on the next flight out." I will never forget L/Cpl Darwin Judge, he went away for only 5 minutes, then rushed us to the plane, Judge put my 4 year old daughter on his back, "piggy back ride" style, picked up my wife's suit cases, and walked them up to the plane. That was the last time I saw Darwin Judge alive, he was my hero that day. A few weeks ago, my step-daughter, Becky Potratz, graduated from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, with honors. Comedian Bill Cosby was the graduation speaker. But I only thought of one person standing next to my daughter as she got her diploma, Darwin Judge, who carried that little girl on his back 23 years ago. I have a 21 year old daughter and a 7 year old son now, now I think I can imagine the pain the Judge and McMahon families felt, when their little boys didn't come home on April 29, 1975. But if it weren't for the Darwin Judges and Charles McMahon's, thousands of Americans and Vietnamese would not have made it to this country and lived a fuller life. I will never forget the last Marine to die in Vietnam, Darwin Judge, because on a hot day in April, 1975, he was my hero.

CWO Doug Doug Potratz USMC Retired was the organizer of the
Fall of Saigon 25th Memorial/Reunion

 Ken Locke (LCpl Judge's Childhood friend) and CWO Doug Potratz, USMC Retired

CWO Doug Potratz, USMC Retired next to Ida Judge (Mother of LCpl Darwin Judge USMC

CWO Doug Potratz USMC Retired next to MSgt Martin USMC (Deceased)
during a luncheon with LCpl Darwin Judge's parents, relatives, friends and Marshalltown, Iowa Boy Scouts of America

Group picture of the Fall of Saigon Marines with LCpl Darwin Judges parents and  Jim Daisy's (Deceased) Wife
CWO Doug Potratz USMC Retired top row first person.
Picture taken at the Vietnam memorial in Marshalltown, Iowa
During the 25th Reunion of the Fall of Saigon

26th Fall of Saigon Reunion
Honoring Cpl Charles McMahon USMC who was KIA during the Fall of Saigon
CWO Doug Potratz USMC Retired was second to the left.

From Left to Right:    Kevin Maloney, Doug Potratz, Ken Crouse, Don Nicholas at
Iwo Jima Monument after the Marine Corps Marathon