This Island History was written to honor John Levinthol III and the other 12 servicemen from Kaua‘i who died in Vietnam.
Although born in Honolulu, Army Specialist 4 John Levinthol III was raised on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, and attended Wai‘anae High School.
His brother Freddy Levinthol, of Kapahi, recently recalled that “Johnny Boy” spent his summer, Christmas, and Easter school vacations on Kaua‘i, and loved singing and dancing and riding motorcycles in the mountains.
He enlisted in the Army in 1967 and, after basic training, he was sent to Vietnam, where on March 29, 1968, at the age of 19, he was killed in action while serving as an infantryman in Binh Duong Province, South Vietnam, with D Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Freddy, then in the eighth grade, also remembered a brown military sedan parked outside his father’s house on Kaua‘i.
Two military officers, one of them a chaplin, then stepped out and asked to speak privately with his father.
It was then that Freddy learned his brother had been killed in Vietnam, and it was the first time that he had seen his father, a highly-decorated combat veteran of World War II, break down and cry.
Among John Levinthol III’s military decorations are the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and Army Presidential Unit Citation.
A requiem Mass was held for him at the Fort Shafter post chapel on O‘ahu, and burial with full military honors followed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
He was survived by his parents John Levinthol of Kapahi, and Mary Levinthol of Wai‘anae, stepmother Theresa Levinthol, adopted brother Louie Domingo, sister Lillian Levinthol, half-brothers Nicholas, Freddy, Edward and Vincent Levinthol, and half-sisters Donna and Gwendolyn Levinthol.
Other servicemen from Kaua‘i killed in the Vietnam War are Clyde Caires, Gaylord Kila Defries, Gary Kawamura, Allen Lanui Lewis, Rodney Pavao, Roque Perpetua Jr., Thomas Salvatore, Miles Tanimoto, Stanley Kamaki Woodward, Hilario Leanio Jr., Francis Souza and Francisco Concepcion Jr.
Island History columnist Hank Soboleski is a Vietnam War veteran.