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History of Vietnam Combat Veterans Association

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

Hello My name is Winslow (Ben) Gutierrez. I graduated from M. Smiley HS in Houston in May 1964. I was drafted on November 1965, I served the 11th Armored Calvary in Vietnam from August 1966 to September 1967. I was a track commander on a personal carrier.

When we got back to Oakland, California from Vietnam, I was a loner. I was supposed to forget everything that happen over there, which was hard to do. Returning back to Houston, I never looked for any high school friends or friends from the old neighborhood. All I wanted was to be with my wife.

In 1970, I went to work at the Post Office as a mailman. Which was a good job for me because finally, I was working by myself and not around other people. One day I happen to deliver mail at one of my high school friends. I knocked on the door and his cousin answered. She told me he had been killed in Vietnam in 1969 (Gary Grimes). It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Remembering Marine Gary Dempsey Grimes

In April 1967 Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, was manning an outpost on a hill at Nui Loc Son, running daily (and nightly) patrols to deny the valley below to the enemy. On the 21st of April most of the company set out on a daylight patrol that took them into the village of Binh Son. As the Marines approached across the rice paddies they were ambushed by a dug-in VC Main Force battalion that enjoyed a clear line of fire across level land with little cover. The Fox Company ran into a hornets nest, 14 marines were killed in action and another 18 men were wounded. early in the fight, which continued until other elements of the 1st Marines and the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, arrived and flanked the VC from their fortifications. By the time Fox 2/1 was relieved they had lost 27 men. Fourteen Marines and sailors from other units were killed in the action as well - a total of 41 known dead. One of these gallant soldiers was Gary "Dimpsey" Grimes.

Starting Vietnam Combat Veterans Association

In 2013, we had started a new group called Vietnam Combat Veterans Association. Finally, at one our meeting, I asked the group what they thought of the monument. There are nearly 470 KIA’s. I talked to a friend Bobby Schlitzberger at the Vet Center. I explained to Bobby what we wanted to do. Since he has been in the monument business for over 40 years, he could let us know what the cost would be. He told me the cost was about $355,000.00. None of us are rich or have that kind of money so we would have to raise money by donations and fundraisers. I decided it was worth a shot if I could honor my fellow brother and sisters in arms.

Visit To Washington DC Monument To See The Wall.

How many people have family members and friends on the wall in Washington DC? How many of you have been able to go there to see their names engraved? Not many, so this is why we want to have a monument built here for everyone to be able to visit. In 2018 Honor Flight Houston took me on an overnight trip to see the wall. It was an experience, most of my life I had been numb until this moment. I had never been welcomed home until I existed the flight in D.C., there were people there cheering when we got off the plane, firetrucks spraying water and flags flying. It was one of the best days of my life. The trip to the wall seeing my buddies brought me closure after 50 years. I think we need the same thing here for the veterans and especially their families before they are forgotten and we are all gone. We are hoping this will heal many hearts. Vietnam Fallen Warriors Monument will be built to honor those fallen that never came home including my running buddy Gary Dempsey Grimes.

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