Yale '62 - Obituaries - Richard DeWitt Barlow Shepherd

Richard DeWitt Barlow Shepherd

Born: August 11, 1941
Died: February 6, 1967

Dick (Shep) was born in New Haven and moved with his family to Princeton, New Jersey during his high school days. He graduated from Princeton Country Day School and the Loomis School in Windsor, Connecticut. He was a National Merit Semi-Finalist. He attended Yale with our Class from September 1958 until the Spring of 1960. He was a member of Trumbull College. He also attended Columbia University. After leaving Yale and Columbia, he traveled around the country for about a year. He crewed on a sailboat from Portland, Maine to the Virgin Islands and then was employed as Vice President of a company known as Carib Imports in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

Dick enlisted in the United States Army, July 1, 1964 and graduated from Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned to Vietnam with Company C of the Second Battalion First Infantry Division. He was killed in action February 6, 1967, near Lai Khe in an area known as the Iron Triangle. The United States Army awarded him a posthumous Bronze Star for heroism. Dick was 25 years old at the time and a First Lieutenant. He was the only member of our class killed in action in Vietnam.

As part of the memorial service for him, a letter he had written to his mother just before his death was read in which he told how when his mechanized company was camped out in the war zones, the children seemed to appear from nowhere and swarmed over the tanks. He stated he was learning the Vietnamese language through self-instruction and was able to communicate with the children in their own language. "I am appalled," he wrote, "by the children; their naked, sore-infested bodies break my heart." Because of his concern for the children, a memorial fund was established at Save the Children Federation of Norwalk, Connecticut in his memory. The funds were used in 1968 to construct in the hamlet of Vinh-Hy an elementary school which was named for him.

Excerpts from Dick's letters from Vietnam to friends and family were published in our Class Book in 1987. The pamphlet containing the complete set of his wartime letters was donated by our class to the Yale Library, Memorabilia Department.

Dick never married. His name is inscribed on the Wall in Washington, Panel 15E, Row 001 as well as in Woolsey Hall.