By Louise Scott, Gary Crusader
United States Army SP4 George Osborne from Gary was killed in action during his tour in Vietnam. He sacrificed his life in 1967 for his fellow soldiers by covering a mortar round with his body to save them. His friend Robert Buggs believes it to be ashame and wrong that he never received any recognition from the city of Gary or any public entity for his service from his hometown.
Buggs, his best friend, worked with him at Inland Steel. When Osborne told him he was volunteering to join the Army he tried to talk him out of it because of the political climate and opposition to the war.
Two weeks before returning home to Gary, Buggs received a letter from Osborne expressing how they would party upon his return. Before that could happen Osborne’s sister Lois Kemp notified Buggs of her brother’s death in the line of duty. Although Buggs was sadden and hurt by the loss of his friend, he has mostly been upset that he never received any recognition from the city of Gary for his military service and the sacrifice of his life.
George’s mother, Virginia W. Osborne received a letter from the United States Army Commanding General W. C. Westmoreland expressing his deep distress to learn of the death of her son. Westmoreland said, “I always have a feeling of close personal loss when informed of the death of members of this command who have died while serving their country here in Vietnam. I know that it must be especially difficult for you because of the fact your son was serving so far from home and family. Your son made the supreme sacrifice in the service of his country for the cause of freedom.”
His mother also received a letter from Major General Kenneth G. Wickham of the USA Adjutant that the Government of the Republic of Vietnam awarded her son posthumously the Military Merit Award. The government made arrangements for his award to be delivered to her by a representative of the Commanding General, Third United States Army.
Osborne received several awards for his service in the military. They included The Purple Heart, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnamese Merit Medal and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
He died November 22, 1967 in Vietnam as a result of a medal fragment wound received while carrying a mortar round which exploded while on combat operation. He was buried in Crystal Springs, Mississippi.
Buggs said he has contacted Congressman Peter Visclosky for assistance in honoring him locally. His name is engraved on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. He said, “It is time that the city of Gary give SP4 George Osborne his just due for giving his life for his country and his immediate comrades.”
The city of Gary and Congressman Peter Visclosky were recently notified of SP4 Osborne’s sacrifice. Both have indicated that they will look into his service and decide how and when they honor him.