Lower Merion High School

Class of 1965

(contributions of memorial obituaries for other class members are welcome)

Reflections of Roger Briskin, LMSHS 65
-written by Marvin Miller, LMSHS 65

Roger Steven Briskin
April 17, 1947 - March 31, 1967
Lower Merion Senior High School, Class of 1965

The 2004 Presidential election brought my memories of Roger Briskin into ever sharp focus. That one of the candidates was a decorated Vietnam War veteran and the other had avoided front line combat in Vietnam was paradoxical. Over 58,000 American soldiers were killed in the Vietnam war, and our classmate Roger Briskin was, regretfully, one of those.

I first met Roger at Pocono Highlands Camp, a summer camp near Stroudsburg, Pa., and during the summer of 1958 we were both in the same bunk. I can remember the "bug juice" at meals, the snapping turtles in the lake, color war, and the intense competition of flipping baseball cards in our bunk quarters. Picture 1 shows our bunk - Roger is seated on the bench at the extreme left. If only the innocence of youth could have lingered into the years of middle age for both of us.

We went to different elementary schools but would hook up again at Ardmore JHS and LMSHS. During the early teenage years I spent time with Roger at Hebrew School at Temple Adath Israel, as we both prepared first for our Bar Mitzvahs and then for Confirmation. Mr. Harman was the teacher who helped us learn our Torah parts for our Bar Mitzvahs. While I wish I could truthfully tell my own children that my behavior at Hebrew School was exemplary and proper, my recollections are that Roger and I occasionally had some behavior lapses which Mr. Harman only too quickly pointed out to us. If only the comic relief of those teenage years could have lasted a bit longer for both of us.

Because Roger felt a deep responsibility to serve his country, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after he graduated from LMSHS. He was promoted to corporal and sent to Vietnam. Picture 2 shows Roger in uniform. On March 31, 1967, in Da Nong Quong Nam Province, Roger was killed by enemy mortar fragments as he attempted to rescue a fallen comrade.

On trips to Washington D. C., I try and visit the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall. I go to Panel 17E, line 077, and etch onto paper the name of Roger Steven Briskin. I hold it in front of me, and the name becomes soaked with tears.

I have a permanent memory of Roger that I carry with me everyday and wherever I go. When I was 14 years old, Roger and I were waiting after school for the public bus to take us to Hebrew school for Confirmation Class, when we started to wrestle for fun. Roger picked me up and threw me on the ground as he had seen done on Fabiani's Mat Time, and I landed on my right knee. The next day my right knee locked and there was a golf ball-sized piece of loose cartilage under the skin of my right knee. The surgery that I needed to correct this left me with a 6 inch scar. Everyday as I get dressed and look at my right knee, I have a fleeting remembrance of Roger. I am thankful he was part of my childhood and will be forever grateful for his ultimate sacrifice.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Photos supplied by Marvin Miller