Click banner to go to Collin County Freedom Fighters


Jerry W. Combest was born January 17, 1943, and graduated from Wylie High School in the class of 1961. Jerry went into the Army in 1966, was trained as an infantry rifleman, and arrived in South Vietnam on March 7, 1968,  at Long Binh, the huge American base near Saigon. PFC Combest was assigned to  Charlie Co. 1st Mechanized Bn.  5th Inf. Reg.  25th Inf. Div., known as the ‘Bobcats’ with headquarters at Cu Chi, which was referred to by the soldiers stationed there, as ‘Hell’s Half Acre.’ On the morning of August 21, 1968, deep in a dark forest known as the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation, Charlie Company was involved in a fierce battle against an overwhelming enemy force. Waves of enemy soldiers poured out of the jungle and overran his small unit. SP4 Combest died at the age of 25 while trying to save the lives of his wounded comrades. Jerry's name is listed on the WALL at Panel 47W, Row 16.

Medals Awarded:



SP4 Jerry Combest in Vietnam Photo from Wylie newspaper This photo was taken during the battle of the Ben Cui. Lt. John Snodgrass, CO of  Charlie company, is on the left with the bandaged arm. Memories and Honors of a Hero
Jerry's brothers, sisters, and mother Mrs. Combest and her son Dedication in Wylie High School Yearbook of 1969 to Jerry and Lanny Hale Bronze Star Certificate


  WHS Yearbook dedication The flag from his funeral  


By Direction of the President
The Bronze Star Medal
Presented Posthumously to
Specialist Four Jerry W. Combest

Bronze Star

Bronze Star

For distinguishing himself by outstanding meritorious service in connection with ground operations against hostile forces in the Republic of Vietnam during the period of March 19, 1968 thru 21 August 1968. Through his untiring efforts and professional ability, he consistently obtained outstanding results. He was quick to grasp the implications of new problems with which he was faced as a result of the ever changing situations and to find ways and means to solve those problems. The energetic application of his extensive knowledge has materially contributed to the efforts of the United States mission to the Republic of Vietnam to assist that country in ridding itself of the communist threat to its freedom. His initiative, zeal, sound judgment, and devotion to duty have been in the highest tradition of the United States Army and reflect great credit on him and on the military service.

J. R. Brownlee
Colonel, CE
Acting Chief of Staff

Government of the Republic of Vietnam
Military Merit Award
Awarded to the servicemen of the US Army whose names appear below:
Jerry W. Combest

Servicemen of rare courage and rare self-sacrifice who displayed at all times the most tactful cooperation while aiding the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam to repel the Red wave undermining South Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
With a ready zeal and commendable response, they fought on to the end in every mission and set a brilliant example for their fellow soldiers. They died in performance of duty. Behind them they leave the abiding grief of their former comrades-in-arms, Vietnamese as well as American.




I only knew Jerry for a short time, just a few months, but Jerry changed my life forever. My school, Lake Highlands, had played against the Wylie Football team, but I never met Jerry until that summer of '67. However, Jerry became like a brother in only a short time. As many times as I have gone to Washington, I have never been able to go to the Wall. I do not know what I would do when I saw his name there. The pain is too great, even to this day. But your tribute has helped so much.
Jerry, another buddy named Johnny Bozeman, and I worked together at LT Industries in Garland, TX that summer, and Jerry and I were both drafted at the same time. Johnny was joining the Air Force and going to pilot school in Arizona, I think. We went in just one day apart, and hoped to meet up at Fort Polk. Just a few days before we went in, Jerry, our buddy Bozeman, and I went drinking and smoked a cigar to wish our selves well. I got a sinus infection from it. When I reported for my final induction physical, I was referred to the doctors. Four of us draftees were to see a doctor that day. One, like me, had allergies. Another had his big toe cut off, and another had no cartilage in his right knee because of high school football. I was the only one refused that day. They gave me a 1Y and sent me home. I was both glad and yet worried about Jerry going it without me. When he was killed, I had a tremendous since of guilt. I attended his funeral, and then a few weeks later got a packet of letters I had mailed to him that he never received. I have always thought it should have been me, because Jerry had so much to offer. I know it sounds hollow, but I would have traded places with him if I could have. I miss him to this day. One day, Jerry showed up at my mom's house with two portraits, one each of my two brothers, one in charcoal and one in pastel. He just did this on his own, and he gave them to my mom. They were fabulous. I couldn't believe he was so talented. He would act out skits sometimes when we were together, and could evoke emotions of laughter and tears from Johnny and me in one skit. He was brilliant, talented in art and acting, and most of all, was a wonderful friend. Thank you for all you have done. It means so much to me. - Garry Freeman, a friend of Jerry's

I was just remembering Jerry for some reason, so I Goggled on his name. The first hit was I am going to send the web site to my two brothers. Jerry always treated kids as real people, and Kurt and Kyle still remember and love Jerry to this day. Johnny Bozeman was called from duty out of Thailand to escort Jerry home. Johnny had fallen and injured his head in pilots training, and was reassigned as a surveillance officer along the border there with Laos and China. I never knew all the details of Jerry's service to his country and his sacrifice to his brothers that day. It makes a difference knowing that. - Garry Freeman

SP4  Combest ~ I never had the honor to have known you, but GOD has chosen me to wait for that.  I just wanted to say, what a brave, and remarkable soldier you were on August 21, 1968.  Even though I was a little girl then, I knew about Vietnam.  
You, Sir, Are Not Forgotten!  Thank you for serving your country and GOD Bless you,  Jerry Wayne.  
Christine Asby
Kansas City,  MO  

If you would like to leave a memorial message in the memory of Jerry Combest, Go Here.

To read about the Battle of the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation
Go Here

SSGT Marvin Rex Young, from Odessa, Texas, was among those heroes who were killed
in the Battle of Ben Cui. Rex was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
To read more about SSGT Young, click on the Permian Basin Viet Veteran Memorial below.

Permian Basin Vietnam Veteran Memorial

Photo Galleries