Lance Cpl. Bruce Bernard Livingston of Lorain was killed the day he should have been the best man in his brother’s wedding.
His brother, Rich, wanted him to come home for his wedding ceremony, but Rich Livingston understood when his younger brother told him he couldn’t leave because he had a whole company of other brothers to look after.
“That was his family over there,” said the 60-year-old. “They were a band of brothers, and they took care of each other.”
On Sept. 2, 1967, Bruce Bernard Livingston, an 18-year-old from Lorain, was caught in the middle of a rice paddy field ambush in Quang Tri, South Vietnam, in which 90 percent of his company was injured or killed.
As a machine gunner, he covered his comrades with gunfire as they retrieved the injured. After taking out two Vietnamese machine gunners on his own, a third popped out on his flank and hit him with a 50-caliber bullet.
Rich Livingston was married that day, a Saturday. He found out about his brother’s death two days later, and prepared to leave for his own tour a month later.
“He was killed on the same day I was married,” he said. “It just happened that way, and I went back to duty. There’s not enough time for life.”
Bruce Bernard Livingston, who was awarded three Purple Hearts, wrestled at Admiral King High School before graduating in 1966 at the age of 17. His brother reflected on the Livingston upbringing as one that forged the brothers into comrades early on —their father was a veteran World War II drill sergeant.
“My brother was not afraid of God, man, beast or our dad,” he said. “He was a tough little guy.”
After the war, Rich Livingston returned and met one of the soldiers his brother had saved. Another would locate him on Thanksgiving Day many years later, but each told him how Bruce Bernard Livingston had saved their lives, and how grateful they were he was there that day.
Rich Livingston has since retired and moved to Boca Raton, Fla., but considers Memorial Day as a date full of memories, good and bad, that are always worth remembering.
“I look at that day and see the loss of life and the sacrifices that were made,” he said. “It’s a day that forces people to think about and appreciate what has happened.”
Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.