C Company 1967
Bruce was born on November 10, 1943 and joined the Armed Forces while in OVID, NY.
He served as a 11B10 in the Army. In 1 year of service, he attained the rank of CPL/E4. He began a tour of duty on September 18, 1966.
On May 29, 1967, at the age of 23, BRUCE K MANNING perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Quang Ngai.
Memories of my friend, Bruce K. Manning
I first met Bruce in basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Bruce was 21 years old, older than most of us by about 3 years. I always looked up to Bruce, partly because of his age, but mostly because of his strength, wisdom, humor and maturity.
Bruce was married and I was introduced to his wife Donna after our basic training graduation. This was the only time I was to ever meet Donna Manning.
After basic training, Bruce and I went on leave to our homes for two weeks, then we met again at Ft. Gordon for 9 weeks of A.I.T. training, then to Ft. Benning for an abbreviated two week jump school. We were always together in the same barracks during all our training and our friendship continued to grow. It must have been the name thing Manning, Markham that always had us together.
In Vietnam we again ended up together in the same platoon, Bruce was a machine gunner, and I was a R.T.O. See “Cobra Platoon Picture”. I’m in the top row, fourth from the left and Bruce is fifth from left.
I was not with the company when Bruce was killed, it is one of the things, I’ve wondered all my life about. Most of us know we can’t change what is willed by God, yet I will always question in my heart, why Bruce, after the time we had spent together the past 2 years, why it happen when I wasn’t there. Bruce was my brother as surely as if we were from the same mother.
Bruce always made fun of me coming from such a small town like Erie PA, while he came from such a big town in N.Y. Of course, me not being a man of the world, I believed him to be from a very large city, probably on the same scale as New York city. He would always let me know that my small town ways weren’t acceptable and I would need to learn the ways of the big city if I was to survive in this world.
Many years later I finally found his hometown of Ovid, NY while looking for his family. I realized as I entered Ovid, sneezed, had to turn around and re-enter Ovid, that Bruce had been pulling my leg all that time. This is also why it took me so long to find Ovid, even AAA couldn’t help.
The American Legion of Ovid is named for Bruce, and they have all the write up’s and pictures displayed in the main hall. I also met his wonderful mother and a younger brother (who was Airborne too, in honor of Bruce, he told me) after about 25-30 years. Ida Manning took me to Bruce’s grave site which was in the hometown of his wife. I still write and call his mom from time to time, she still grieves, as we all do for those we have lost.
My first journey to Ovid was about 7 or 8 years ago, and even though I always looked for Ovid on maps, or by questioning people from NY, this trip would be my first try to open up the past in 30 years, but because of this trip, I did allow the past to open up, and was able to reach out for help from Dave Cook, and with his help and columns in the “Static Line” found a “Cobra” Company Reunion (Ken & Angie’s) that I haven’t missed going to in 6 years, and even this web site was born in Catlett, VA at this reunion. All this because 34 years ago I met a man I called brother, and have never forgotten.
David J. Markham
We all have our Bruce Manning’s, please share your memories of them with the rest of us.
Here I am, 44 years after Bruce gave his life in service to his country thinking about him. I don’t know why for sure but I do think about Bruce and John Lilla, also from Ovid, for which the American Legion is named in Ovid. I just happened to stumble onto the website where you posted your thoughts about Bruce.
I grew up in Ovid and like Bruce and his brothers when to Ovid Central School. Back then, we went to kindergarten, elementary school, jr. high school, and high school all in the same building. I knew his brothers Lance, Bill, was in several grades with Collin (known as Sid), and Speedy. Bruce was a few years older than me but I knew him well.
Gym class often found a mixture of high schoolers from different grades together. Bruce was in one of my gym classes and was a pretty good football player for the school team. He taught me to block and do the 3 point stance.
He was a tough SOB when it was necessary but he was also a decent, humorous and good person.
I joined the Navy shortly after I turned 17 and would see Bruce from time to time when I would go home on liberty. The last time I saw Bruce he had a pool hall in Ovid – he really did! – and I went there to play a few games and shoot the breeze with him. He was one of those guys who matured quickly and didn’t shirk from responsibility.
I went off to serve at Fleet Training Group in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a year and didn’t see him after he went into the service. He talked to me a lot when I visited him about the Navy and about military service in general that time but I don’t know if he had already been drafted or had joined the Army. No one, however, was surprised that he would go into the Airborne. That was just Bruce.
As tough as he was though, Bruce was honest about his feelings. He knew my mother well. They would share a few beers in the pubs in that small village of Ovid. Long after Bruce’s death I was having a few beers with my mother and she told me she talked to Bruce just before he left for Vietnam. My mother was married to an Infantryman during World War II, and after divorcing him she married another Infantryman from World War II. She had one older son who served in the Navy and two (including me) currently serving in the Navy. So she talked to Bruce about going to Vietnam. My mother told me that Bruce said to her that he was scared to death but felt it was something he had to do.
On Memorial Day of 1968 the American Legion Post was going to dedicate the post to the memory of John Lilla and Bruce Manning. The post commander at the time, Bill Shepard, wrote a letter to the commanding officer of the USS Grand Canyon (AD 28) on which my brother and I were both serving. He asked that we be permitted to attend the ceremony. We were both given administrative orders to report to Bill, be in uniform throughout the weekend, and serve at the pleasure of Bill. Unfortunately, on the way from Newport, RI we had a serious car accident in Smithfield, RI and never made it. We both spent extensive time in the hospital recovering from the accident.
15 or 20 years later I became commander of the post and did a rededication of the post to John and Bruce. The parade followed the original route, I sent to our congressman for pictures of each of their names on the Wall, and requested two flags that had been flown over the Capital. I had two photos of each name. One was framed and hung on the wall at the post and one was given to each mother. Both mothers received a flag that had been flown over the Capital.
It was a very emotional day for everyone and especially for the mothers.
I thought you might like to know a little more about Bruce. There is a reason you gravitated towards him and became his friend. Bruce was the kind of guy you wanted to call your friend.
I am so pleased that his name is part of the American Legion in Ovid. The VFW post was named after Peter Depew, a World War II serviceman who was killed in action. I do not think there are any more Depew family members in the area anymore but Pete’s name will always be part of the community, just as Bruces’ name will be long after the Manning family has moved on to other areas.
US Navy 1965-1969