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Harry L. Ecton Vietnam War correspondence and photographs

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2020-136-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains 70 letters and postcards from PFC Harry L. Ecton, USA to his girlfriend Diana Gatrell during the Vietnam War. Also included are 7 letters from Diana returned due to his death, as well as two 3-inch audio reel to reel tapes, one containing an audio correspondence, condolence letters from military personnel, photographs, clippings, and one black velvet memento from Vietnam.


  • Creation: 1967 June 9 - 1968 February 25

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Private First Class Harry Leon Ecton, United States Army (9/28/1947 - 1/31/1968) was born in Oberauerbach, Germany to Brigitte Heintz and Leon Ecton. He was an only child.

Sergeant First Class Leon Garrett Ecton, United States Army (3/31/1921 - 1/10/2001) was born in Maryland to Norman Lester and Nina Mae Ecton and enlisted in the US Army in December 1945, shipping overseas for occupation forces with a field artillery unit and eventually serving with Company A, 3rd MTB, 35th Armor in Germany. In Oberauerbach, he met Brigitte Amalie Heintz (12/30/1924 - 5/6/2019), daughter of Otto and Amalie Heintz, and together they had their son Harry in 1947. They later married in May 1955 in Augsberg and moved to the US in January 1956 (according to naturalization petition filed May 1959 in San Antonio, Texas; via

Harry grew up with his parents in Sharpsburg, Maryland and he graduated from Boonsboro High School in 1965 where he met his girlfriend Diana Gatrell; she turned 16 years old in December 1967. After graduation, he worked for State Farm insurance until he was drafter into service on June 1, 1967. He trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and after a short reassignment to Fort Knox, Kentucky deployed to Vietnam on October 22, 1967 with the Toop A (originally Troop C for the first week in country), 3rd Squadron, 5th US Cavalry "Black Knights" of the 9th Infantry Division. He served as an armor reconnaissance specialist.

Harry Ecton died as a result of wounds he received from small arms fire during a firefight in the Biên Hòa province of South Vietnam near Saigon on January 31, 1968, just over three months in country. He was interred at Boonsboro Cemetery in Maryland and is represented on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC on Panel 36E, Line 7. His parents never had any other children; according to the donor, his mother Brigitte never recovered from her loss.


0.2 Linear Feet (3 folders)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence from PFC Harry L. Ecton, USA to Diana Gatrell during the Vietnam War. Also included are 7 letters from Diana returned due to his death, as well as audio correspondence, condolence letters, photographs, and one black velvet memento from Vietnam.


This collection is arranged by material type and chronology.

  • Series 1, Correspondence from Harry
  • Series 2, Correspondence from Diana and other authors
  • Series 3, Photographs, clippings, and other materials

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Family and Friends of Harry Leon Ecton, always loved and never forgotten; donated by Diana Nave.

Statement of Potentially Harmful Content

This collection may contain materials that are difficult to view, are potentially harmful, or use outdated and culturally insensitive language. Chapman University preserves and makes these materials accessible to researchers to ensure long-term accuracy of these historical records. This repository aims to not promote or otherwise celebrate this content, but to use it for educational and research purposes.

Please see the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) "Statement on Potentially Harmful Content" for more information:

Finding Aid for the Harry L. Ecton Vietnam War correspondence and photographs
Andrew Harman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States