Friday, November 13, 2009

Cpl. Vance W. Ponsetto, 1946-1967

Daily Iowegian - 27 December 1966
What's a Lifetime of Fighting?
Corporal Vance Ponsetto Found Out In 12 Months
By Charles B. De Puy
  Centerville is like Heaven must be, to Vance Ponsetto, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Leroy Ponsetto, of 1227 West Van Buren.  It would be to anyone who had spent 12 months "out in the field" near Da Nang in Vietnam.
  Just warm food, a clean bed, freedom from constant fear and alert. These things alone make it seem pretty wonderful.
  Corporal Ponsetto has slept on the ground. There was no special time for sleeping. For instance you might have to catch a few winks in the daytime because you were maneuvering during the night. Then again the action would be in the daytime and you could catch a few winks at night. You were never free from alertness and fear. The enemy was anywhere and everywhere. You never could tell for sure. You ate C-rations. You didn't bother with any cooking and it wasn't safe anyhow. You just get hungry enough to make even C-rations taste good. Then there were the days when you got "pinned down" and didn't even have a chance to raise your head or hand. There were booby traps everywhere you went and if that wasn't bad enough there were deadly poisonous snakes to share the land with. And one day there was contact with the VC and a hand grenade exploded too close and you got injuries to hands, ears and face and a purple heart out of that.
  Vance was a sniper and was also in reconnaissance, and intelligence action. Nothing could have had more hazards.
  The professional Viet Cong fighters, though small, are tough and they're good soldiers. That didn't make Vance's duties any easier.
  A guy comes home aftr 12 months of that and 12 months can seem like a long lifetime under those conditions.
  You feel like walking up to him, sticking out your hand and thanking her for going thru all that so that you could stay safely at home, eat warm meals, have a good bed and not have to listen and look for death 24 hours a day.
  That's about it. Cpl. Vance Ponsetto is home. The life that he knew starts all over again. He had forgotten what it was like. He's assigned now to Charleston, S.C., which is a Naval weapon station. He'll study there and what assignments lie ahead only time will tell, but this man has already served a lifetime. That should be enough.
 To the folks at home he brought a big gift ... continuing liberty.
Daily Iowegian - 6 February 1967
Escapes Death In Vietnam
Cpl. Vance Ponsetto Killed in Carolina
  A soldier who twice escaped death in Vietnam was killed in a truck accident while on duty at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, South Carolina, Friday night, February 3, 1967. He was Cpl. Vance William Ponsetto, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joeseph LeRoy Ponsetto of this city.
  Cpl. Ponsetto was saved from death at one time by a small Bible which his mother had sent him. He had placed the Bible in a shirt pocket, and this deflected an enemy bullet, which otherwise probably would have inflicted a fatal wound. He later was wounded in action, and was awarded the Purple Heart.
  He returned to the United States December 16, 1966, and at that time was the subject of a feature article in the Iowegian. He had been stationed at the South Carolina base since his return.
  According to report, Cpl. Ponsetto was on duty at the time of the fatal accident. He was a passenger in a pickup truck which missed a curve and crashed. He died a few hours after the accident.
  Cpl. Ponsetto was born in Centerville October 12, 1946, and was 20 years, three months and 21 days of age. He was a graduate of the Centerville schools, a member of the First Lutheran Church, and had been in service since June, 1965. He spent 13 months in Vietnam.
  Surviving are his parents, Joseph LeRoy and Betty Ponsetto, of 1227 West Van Buren, Centerville; one sister, Jackie McNeff of Muscatine, Ia.; three brothers, Danny and Joey, both of Davenport, and Johnny of Newton; his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Louie Valentine of Mystic, Ia., and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Ponsetto, of Jerome; four nephews and two nieces.
  The body will be returned to the Johnson Funeral Home here for burial.  Funeral plans will be announced later when it is known when the body will arrive. 
Daily Iowegian - 7 February 1967
Cpl. Ponsetto Rites Planned
  Funeral services for Cpl. Vance William Ponsetto, United States Marine Corps, will be held Wednesday, February 8, 1967, 2:00 p.m., fromj the First Lutheran Church with Rev. M. H. Suhr officiating. Burial will be in the Jerome Cemetery with Military Rites.
  Friends may call at the Johnson Funeral Home Tuesday evening, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., and Wednesday from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m.  The casket will be closed at the beginning of the service.
  Cpl. Ponsetto was killed in a truck accident while on duty at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, South Carolina, Friday night, February 3, 1967.
Gravestone in Jerome Cemetery

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