Frank Neal Vavrin – Captain, United States Army

  • Date of Birth: 10/28/1946
  • Date of Casualty: 9/8/1970
  • Home of Record: AUGUSTA, GEORGIA
  • Branch of Service: ARMY
  • Rank: CAPT
  • Casualty Country: SOUTH VIETNAM
  • Casualty Province: QUANG NGAI

Captain Frank Neal Vavrin, United States Army Infantry, was killed in action on 8 September 1970 by an enemy mortar and rocket attack on his base camp while serving as an Advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.

Captain Vavrin, the son of Chaplain and Mrs Frank O. Vavrin was born in Puerto Rico, October 1946. He attended school at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and in Minnesota (while his father was in Korea). For five years they felt homesteaded at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and then moved in 1960 to Berlin, Germany 8 months before the infamous Wall started to grow. He graduated from Orleans American High in France, Class of 1964.

Returning to the States he attended Carthage College in Konesha, Wisconsin, and then transferred to the University of Texas in El Paso while Dad went to Vietnam and Mother and his brother and sister stayed here. While his father went to Vietnam with an Ordanance Battalion they knew that sooner or later he would find an Airborne unit and he did.

The family moved to Fort Gordon, Georgia. Captain Vavrin contracted mononucleosis at El Paso and dropped out long enough to lose his credits for the year. He called home, spoke to his Dad, and said “Sooner or later you’ll join the Army; why not come home and do it now?” An army friend was coming back from leave in California who stopped by El Paso to form a two car convoy to come east.

After Basic and Advanced Training he entered the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps School at Fort Benning where the commission of Second Lieutenant was granted on 28 March 1968. His next duty was Ranger Traninig School followed by assignment to the 2nd Ranger Training Company at Dahlonega, Georgia. Before being assigned to Vietnam in 1969 he completed Airborne Training and owing to being involved in waiting for some administrative untangling spent his time accumulating 13 jumps.

The 199th Light Infantry Brigade was spread in a circle around Saigon. while on patrol a grenade was thrown from the bamboo that lined the roadside. Every member of the patrol was wounded or killed. Captain Vavrin had a severe gash to his hand that got him to the hospital at Camp Zama and then to the States. He was assigned to the Transportation School at Fort Eustis. At least that was the intention. A wrong MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) number was listed that sent him to the Ranger School in Florida! The word got to us later that he claimed “That was not my intention!” However, he stuck it out, became a qualified Ranger and then went on to Fort Eustis as a junior member of the School Faculty.

He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for the Saigon experience. Before his life ended, Captain Vavrin would be awarded three Bronze Stars and a Silver Star.

At the end of August, 1970 he returned to Vietnam after a 30-day refresher training in Hawaii. One week after arrival “in country” the mortar and rocket attacks struck his compound with the wounding of two of his colleagues (one temporarily blinded by grit blasted into his eyes and the other losing a foot. Both men are still alive and very active at this writing.)

Captain Vavrin was an Airborne soldier in every sense of the word and lived a life of experiences far beyond most of his contemporaries. He loved our Lord, his country and his family.

He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.


  • CPT U.S.A.
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/28/1946
  • DATE OF DEATH: 09/08/1970

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