John N. Baldwin


It is a distinct pleasure to share with you the origin of this year’s Memorial Day Flag, which will fly day and night until this day next year. This is the fourth year we have done this, choosing from submitted flag entries coming right from the people in our village of Twain Harte. The current flag flew in 2003 over Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, donated by Jim Mendonsa.

The flag that honors us today was one of two which covered the casket of Marine Lance Corporal Edward Paul VanDervort who was killed February 4th, 1969 in Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam.

Born in San Francisco on April 15, 1948, Edward had been in Vietnam for ten months, had been wounded twice before and was just 72 days from returning home when he, “with conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty”, threw himself on an enemy hand grenade that had fallen into his platoon’s night position. Not one of his men was wounded. For that sacrifice he was awarded his third purple heart and the nation’s third highest combat medal, the Silver Star. His name may be found etched into the black granite of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, on panel 33W, line 60.

Edward spent summers in Twain Harte at his grandparents’ home by Twain Harte Lake, where his brother Rhon Mein now lives, and to which his mother and sister Val come regularly from San Ramon. They are all with us today. Back then, Edward Paul rode horses in the meadow that is now the golf course, had five cent sodas at the Frost Top, which is now the Mug, and on summer nights danced in the roller skating rink where the Wildwood Inn was located. He won medal after medal in the Summer Water Carnival at the lake, never dreaming that his last medal would be the Silver Star in a land far from home.

There is nothing any of us can say except that this young man, cut down in the flower of his youth will now, thirty eight years later, look down and see Old Glory flying above the little mountain town that he loved so much. From today forward, look up at that flag. It flies for Edward Paul VanDervort. This was his home. He was one of us.

It is my pleasure to introduce Rohn Mein, his brother, Val his sister, and their mother. Please welcome them.