A Place of Honor and Remembrance In the Home of the Brave
Belleville, New Jersey
John Michael Hoar
Pfc. John M. Hoar, U.S.A.
(Feb. 24, 1966) -- He's home.
Pfc. John M. Hoar, a slender 20-year-old soldier who marched off to the Vietnam war on Christmas Day 1965, returned home Sunday evening. He became the first (known) Belleville serviceman to give his life in that far-away conflict which no one understands.
His gray, flag-draped coffin arrived at 9:30 p.m. Sunday aboard a sleek military transport plane which landed at Newark Airport accompanied by Sp. 5 Bob White, a military escort provided by the army for its fallen warriors.
Pfc. Hoar died of a head wound inflicted by soldiers of the Viet Cong during a savage firefight at Bongson, 265 miles northeast of Saigon on the South China Sea.
His death, said an Army telegram from the Defense Department, ''... was incurred by small arms fire while on a combat operation.''
"When we came up here," he wrote before the fight, "we had 15 guys in the squad. Now we have nine. One was taken sick, another broke his leg, and three others were wounded."
Now Pfc. Hoar himself joins the list of America's honored dead who were killed in action.
He is survived by his grieving parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Hoar, 80 Cleveland Street, who sit quietly in their second-floor apartment and remember the days when their son was a laughing young man who had the world before him.
His young brother, Robert Jr., a husky 15-year-old, tries to maintain a manly composure but tears dampen his eyes as he tells of his brother's background here in Belleville, and of his adventures as a soldierin a distant land whose very name now takes on a nightmarish quality.
He also leaves a sister, Mrs. John (Mary Beth) Weber of Bloomfield.
Pfc. Hoar was born on Sept. 17, in Kearny, the first of the two sons and a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hoar.
He attended Queen of Peace School, St. Peter's and finally Belleville High School before leaving at the age of 16 while in his junior year.
He took a job with Eastern Tool and Manufacturing Co., here, and had been scheduled for the draft sometime in October.
"But that wasn't good enough for him," said his mother, Mae, "he wanted to serve right away." And with the youthful optimism of all boys, her son managed to have his induction date advanced to Aug. 6.
After soldiering at nearby Fort Dix, a basic training camp where countless thousands of eager, young soldiers have gone before him, Pfc. Hoar and the rest of Company B, who were part of the 1st Calvary Division (Airborne) left for California.
Then, on Christmas Day, the company was marched aboard a military transport and sent to Vietnam. There he took part in the fierce fighting near An Khe Now.
"We went through Hell," he wrote his mother.
But his thoughts, like most American soldiers, were always on home.
"Yesterday," he wrote, "we sat down upon a mountain and looked out at the Pacific and thought of home -- even more than usual.
But Pfc. Hoar will never again be far from home thinking about his loved ones.
He was killed in action the day after writing his last letter.
He had been overseas less than two months.
A Solemn High Mass of Requiem was held yesterday morning at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Church, attended by friends who mourn his death and parents who grieve for a son lost forever.
Six Belleville servicemen served as casket-bearers for Pfc. Hoar.
"We had to turn others down," said Mrs. Mae Hoar, who added that many other friends had offered to serve. All six servicemen were given special leaves.
A six-man honor guard from Fort Dix shattered the air over his grave with the crack of rifle fire, followed by the sound of Taps which carried far across the crisp February air.
Pfc. Hoar was home.
New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Holmdel, N.J.
CO, B/2/12 Cav, John's Unit
Mesa, AZ85206 USA
I was the company commander of B Co, 2/12 Cav, 1st Cav Div on the day John M. Hoar died and I remember that day and him so very well even though it has now been 36 years since his death.
Our company was given the mission to conduct an helicopter assault at last light on 12 February and we did just that.
Although not officially recognized as such, it was the first night assault conducted by this new Division of the Army and the assault was conducted by the soldiers of the unit perfectly. We put down in the middle of Vietnamese Cemetery and were immediately taken under intense fire by an estimated battalion of the enemy.
The battle was fierce but we did not budge. Sometime during the night John was wounded but it was impossible to get him med-evacted because of hostile fire.
He died of his wounds early in the morning of 13 February as did a number of his friends and comrades.
I can say that after all these years, my emotions are still uncontrolled when I recall the fine young men who gave their lives doing their duty.
Like those killed on 9/11, all were heroes in their own right and live in my heart.
Rest in Peace John. We will meet again.
Sunday, February 24, 2002
HOAR, JOHN MICHAEL
Date of Birth: Monday, September 17, 1945
Start of Tour: Sunday, December 26, 1965
The Wall: Panel 05E - Row 029
The Belleville Times
Snail Mail: PO Box 110252, Nutley NJ 07110