Search for Vietnam War Buddy Goes Viral

His platoon called him 'Louisiana,' and hope social media outreach can track him down
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2018 2:35 PM CDT
This Man's Vietnam Buddies Are Searching for Him
A picture of "Louisiana" from Susan Waldrop Garvin's Facebook post. Click through to her post for the full photo.   (Susan Waldrop Garvin / Facebook)

All they have is a photo from the 1970s, a nickname, and social media—but the veterans from one Vietnam War platoon are hoping that will be enough to track down the buddy they called "Louisiana." Posting from her husband's Vietnam reunion earlier this month, Susan Waldrop Garvin posted the photo of the man, taken in 1970 or 1971 when his friends estimate he was 18 to 20 years old, and what his buddies remembered about him: his dark curly hair, the necklace he wore along with his dog tags, the fact that he had so many nicknames they don't even know if they ever knew his real name—and that, due to his main nickname, they think he may have hailed from Louisiana. "He was a grunt on the ground in Vietnam. ARMY infantry; D Company; 2/8th CAVALRY; Range platoon in Vietnam," she wrote, pleading for anyone who might recognize him to come forward.

The post also included a video (viewed more than 170, 000 times so far, Garvin says) of three of his buddies talking about how much they miss him and want to track him down. Garvin's husband Jim, who took the photograph, says he takes it to every reunion he attends and everyone remembers Louisiana, but no one has been able to identify him. That post has been shared more than 130,000 times, and Garvin has made subsequent posts as news organizations have picked up the story. "We just remember that the picture represents the beautiful grin that he had almost all the time," Jim Garvin tells WBRZ. To WWL-TV, he adds that Louisiana was "a very jovial and lighthearted person and kind of lifted the spirits of the rest of the troops." "He was just a very happy-go-lucky, very positive individual," he tells NBC DFW. He adds that attending reunions can be "healing" for vets, and he hopes Louisiana can make it to one. (More Vietnam veterans stories.)

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