(Excerpt taken from Tom Waterbury's story and information from Dan Malin C Co 1/20th 69-70)
A month after taking over Charlie Company, Lieutenant Nelson and some of his men were being transported back to Liz in trucks when they were blown up by a 500 pound command-detonated mine, and then replaced the asphalt-quite a task when you consider it was done at night and that the access road was guarded. Nelson was killed, his men in the back were ejected and received only bruises. The two VC who detonated the mine were captured. They had been instructed when and how to blow the mine. One was ten years old and the other eleven.
Read E I received below from LT Nelsons cousin..very touching.. you can e mail her at
Dear Mike, I just wanted to write and share a few thoughts with you. I am a cousin of Franklin Nelson. Actually, there was a period of my life that my mom and I lived with his family. He was like a brother to me...always bigger then life itself.
A few weeks ago, I was just searching on the internet for some reason and my son and I clicked on The Wall page. Up until this time, it had never occurred to me to look at the page and see if he was on it. I was astonished and taken aback by the generous comments of how people had seen him in life. And more so, I was overcome with heartbreak and tears as if he death had just happened.
You see, Frankie as he was affectionately known in our family was the promise that life holds all things good. He was studying to be a doctor at the Brigham Young University when he decided his country needed him. He left it all and was commissioned to serve as a 2Lt. I was eight when he was killed, but I remember his funeral, the sadness his parents suffered and the most amazing stories people told about him. His death left a fracture in all of our hearts that even after 37 years is still tender and raw. His parents are now deceased and his brother who also served has never been the same since. His mother sent clothes and cookies to the children who ultimately betrayed him. In our family, he was and still is a hero.
His page on The Wall and the pictures you shared of the truck he was in when he was killed are the first we have ever seen. Since finding out about LZ Liz through your page, I have done extensive research and found other pictures, maps, stories and aerial views of then and now. I have seen in 2007 through satellite imaging the very hill he lived on and the camp at Van Ly near LZ Liz. The research has opened our eyes to his days in Vietnam and allowed us to share apart of him that was not known. There is another picture of him looking out over the valley someone took that I have never seen. Somehow I feel like he didn't die by himself. I never knew that he was the only one killed in the ambush. I am glad that he had men around him who cared and didnít let him die alone.
Many years ago while living in Washington, DC, I went on several occasions to see the The Wall Memorial. I have his name etched a few times. That was special. Finding pictures of him and people writing about him, extraordinary. Thank you and the men who served with you and him for sharing your own personal experiences. We are a military family. My husband is a retired Special Forces Colonel. He has been working in theater since 09-17-01 in Kuwait, Afghanistan and now Iraq. He works with top ranking generals doing counter-terrorism work. My son is a SGT (vet of Iraq with the 82nd Airborne). I am as proud of them as I was of Frankie.
I am creating a book of pictures and information to share with all of our family of his life over there. He was truly an angel who walked amongst us. Thanks again for letting me share.
Jerri S. Stepp