April 27, 1946 - August 3, 1967
This page is dedicated to the memory of my friend, David Lloyd Wightman. It is an evolving document. I invite any who knew Dave to contribute anything you might want to share for inclusion in the photo gallery page or the stories, memories and links page. I've now added a hit counter and a guest book. Please see the disclaimer and contact link below. PLEASE sign the guest book, there is a link below that will take you to the guest book page.
INTRODUCTION: I first got the idea to build a page in Dave's honor on Veteran's Day 2004. Veteran's Day is one of those days that I think about Dave and get melancholy. I think it gets a bit worse each year, because each year I have another year of experiences to reflect on; more sunsets that I've seen, more projects completed, more joy to have shared with my loved ones. So I suppose that each year the magnitude of the sacrifice that Dave made grows in my perceptions.
Dave was my best friend from the eighth grade through high school and beyond until his untimely death. When he left us he was a newlywed with a charming and supportive wife, the former Aimee Winkenbach. He was an optimist with a great sense of humor. He could find something to laugh about in most anything. He was a simple and gentle soul and a brilliant artist. Shortly before being sent to Viet Nam, he got the backing and sponsorship of Wayne Thiebaud, a nationally known artist and professor of art at the University of Californian at Davis. His foot was in the door.
He landed in Viet Nam on his twenty first birthday, April 27, 1967. He was killed on August 3 that same year, the victim of an American land mine that reportedly detonated and killed Dave and two others of his squadron as they were placing the mines around what was to have been their encampment for the night. I do not necessarily believe that story, as I have never been able to confirm the basic facts as reported. I wish I could find someone who served with him at the end, so that I could hear the details first hand. In a way it doesn't really matter, but in a way it matters immensely. (Update: I finally connected with the men that Dave served with in Vietnam. They assured me that Dave was alone at the time of this tragic accident. That is consistent with everthing I learned researching on my own. I thank them for this information and for the pictures and artwork they made available for this site.)
Dave was a gifted athlete. He did not like sports, he was just genetically blessed with quick reflexes and the ability to run faster than most everyone else. He also liked to be challenged physically, so when he was sent to advanced infantry training, he excelled. Those of us who knew him well were all worried when he got his orders to go to Asia. We had a hard time believing that he could survive in a truly hostile environment. We worried that he would come face to face with an enemy and die in that instant of hesitation that you'd expect such a gentle soul to experience before taking another life. After all, this was a guy I once saw broken hearted over the death of a feral dove.
MY DISCLAIMER, MY REQUEST FOR HELP: I will make every effort to keep Dave's pages as factual as possible. If you find errors, PLEASE CALL THEM TO MY ATTENTION. What I am putting here myself is now colored by 40 years of memories, and in some cases is based in part on hearsay. I hope that this will become a living legacy. I hope that others who knew Dave will find this page and want to contribute something to it. If anything I have said here offends anyone, I am truly sorry. If there are offensive statements that are in error, show me the error and I will fix it. If there are factual statements that offend anyone, please bring them to my attention and I will consider making changes to remove the offense. Thanks for visiting, and thanks for your help. John