'The Jungle' Questions for Study and Discussion

Upton Sinclair's Banned Book

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The Jungle is one of the greatest (and most controversial) works by  Upton Sinclair. . Dedicated to "the Workingmen of America," the novel detailed the unhealthy conditions of the meatpacking industry and eventually led President Theodore Roosevelt to pursue new federal legislations. 

Here are a few questions for study and discussion to think about before and after reading this work.

  • What is important about the title: The Jungle ?
  • What are the conflicts in The Jungle ? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) did you notice in this novel?
  • How does Upton Sinclair reveal character in The Jungle ?
  • What are some themes in the novel? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • What are some symbols in The Jungle ? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • Is Jurgis Rudkus consistent in her actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?
  • Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters persons you would want to meet?
  • Does the novel end the way you expected? How? Why?
  • What is the central/primary purpose of the novel? Is the purpose important or meaningful?
  • Why is the novel usually considered a work of protest literature?
  • How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else?
  • What is the role of women in the text? How are mothers represented? What about single/independent women?
  • Would you recommend this novel to a friend?
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by Upton Sinclair

  • The Jungle Summary

The Jungle is the story of Jurgis Rudkus and his family, Lithuanian immigrants who come to America to work in the meatpacking plants of Chicago. Their story is a story of hardship. They face enormous difficulties: harsh and dangerous working conditions, poverty and starvation, unjust businessmen who take their money, and corrupt politicians who create laws that allow all of this to happen. The story follows the hardships of Jurgis and his family and the transformation that Jurgis undergoes when he accepts the new political and economic revolution of socialism.

The novel begins at the wedding of Jurgis and Ona Rudkus. Marija Berczynskas , a strong and commanding woman, directs the wedding and Tamoszius Kuszleika provides music with his violin. Although Tamoszius's "notes are never true, and his fiddle buzzes on the low ones and squeaks and scratches on the high," he is the star of the wedding. Everyone in the slums of Packingtown is invited, and they are supposed to pay tribute to the family. Many do not, however, and this leaves Jurgis and Ona deeply in debt on the first day of their marriage.

Jurgis and Ona came from the countryside of Lithuania. Because Jurgis and Ona were not allowed to marry in Lithuania and because Ona's father dies, leaving them with little money, Jurgis decides to move his and Ona's family to America. Jonas, Jurgis's brother, tells them of a friend who made a fortune in Chicago and they decide to go there. Upon arriving in America, however, they discover that while the wages are higher, so are the prices. Several agents and thieves scam them when they arrive, and soon much of their money is gone.

In Chicago, they live in a polluted and corrupt slum. Part of their neighborhood, Packingtown, is built upon a garbage dump, and that entire part of the city reeks of garbage and is filled with flies. Jurgis and Ona still feel as though they have much potential in this new land, however. Jurgis goes to the meatpacking plant and immediately finds a job sweeping blood and innards from slaughtered cattle through a drain. The work is very hard and the conditions are very unsafe, but Jurgis is strong and stubborn and cannot understand any man who is not thankful for the opportunity to have work and to earn a living. Many of the workers are bitter about their working conditions, however.

The packinghouses are dirty and unsanitary places where every part of the animal is used to make a profit. Often, spoiled meat will be marked as good and sent out for sale. Many of the old or rotten pieces of animals are sold, and even the refuse from drainage is thrown into the pile of meat to be canned or made into sausage. In some of the factories, dead rats are added to the meat. The workers do not care and the factory bosses do everything they can to speed up the production of the meat. Often the factories will hire extra workers just to keep wages down. There are always more men looking for jobs than there are jobs to give, so most men only make a few cents per hour.

The family sees an advertisement for a house to buy, and they decide that it will be worth their money to buy instead of throwing away their money on rent every month. The house is advertised as new, though it does not look that way, and the real estate agent is a slick man and sells it to them for only a few hundred dollars down. The family balks at the contract, however, when it says that they will only be renting the house, but several lawyers tell them that this is standard and that after seven years of payments they will own the house. The family signs the agreement and moves into the house. They buy new furniture and all settle into their new lives. Marija and Jonas get jobs, and soon Ona and little Stanislovas, one of the family's children, work as well, but they always afford their payment. Soon, however, they find out that they are charged interest on the house and must buy insurance. They soon find that the real estate company sells the houses as new, but then kicks out the occupants when they cannot pay the rent and interest and then sells it to another naïve immigrant family.

The winters are very hard in Chicago, and often the snow is so deep that the family has a difficult time getting to work. Jurgis comes to understand the hardships of his job and of his fellow workers. They are worked to the bone, and the companies do everything they can to speed up the work and to pay lower wages. They use corrupt practices to sell rotting meat, and they can do all of this because they own the politicians who make the laws. Jurgis and Marija join the unions and soon become active members. Jurgis becomes a "crusader" for the unions and sets out to "spread the gospel of Brotherhood by force of arms." In the summer, Marija's factory is furloughed because there is not enough work to employ everyone, so the family begins to struggle even more with money.

Old Antanas dies from sickness that he contracts in one of the factories, and Ona and Teta Elzbieta go into the workforce in order to help the family meet its financial obligations. Their work is difficult, and when Ona becomes pregnant, she is forced to continue working and given only a week off to have her child. She returns to the workforce too quickly and is beset with pain and sickness for the rest of her life. One day, Jurgis finds that Ona does not come home from the factory. When he finds her and questions her, he soon learns that she is being forced into sexual relations by one of the factory bosses. This infuriates Jurgis, who goes to the factory where he beats the man. He is thrown in jail and cannot work. The family falls into an even greater economic depression.

When Jurgis leaves jail, he returns home to find that Ona is in childbirth several months before their second child is due to be born. Ona then dies in childbirth, and Jurgis falls into turmoil. He begins to drink heavily, and Elzbieta keeps his money from him so that the family might survive. Jurgis goes into the city where he soon finds work at a harvesting-machine plant. Philanthropists run the plant is run, and it gives the workers a decent living with fair working conditions. Jurgis soon loses that job, however, and this causes him a greater hatred for the economic systems that keep him and his family in poverty and deny him the ability to work for his keep.

Again without a job, Jurgis begs for work and food. He has a fortuitous turn when one of the children meets a "settlement-worker" who promises Jurgis a job in a steel mill fifteen miles from his home. Jurgis travels to work at this place but soon has an accident with the fiery steel, which takes the skin off his hand. He returns home and cares for his young son for several days. He returns to work when he is healed and comes home on Saturdays to visit his family. He comes home one day, however, to find that his young son Antanas has drowned in one of Packingtown's flooded streets.

Jurgis then leaves Packingtown, hopping on a train into the countryside. He becomes a tramp, traveling across the country, sleeping in fields and forests and taking meals from farmers when he can. He decides now that he will fight the world that has caused him such hardships and do as he pleases. He spends his money on prostitutes and drinking and becomes a migrant farm laborer. He feels freer than he ever has before. One night, however, he stays with a farmer and, upon seeing the farmer's wife bathe their young son, he is filled with grief over the death of his son.

Jurgis returns to Chicago and finds a job building rail tunnels beneath the streets of Chicago. While working at this job one evening, he is struck by a runaway train and badly breaks his arm. After being in the hospital for many days, he is released back onto the street. He has no money, however, and cannot work because of his injury. Jurgis begins to beg on the streets and becomes very hungry and very cold. During one bitter cold streak, Jurgis meets a drunken young man on the street. The young man invites him back to his house, and Jurgis learns that he has found the youngest son of Jones, one of the packing plant owners, who owns an extravagant house with many expensive things. Jurgis steals one hundred dollars from the boy but is then kicked out of the house. He tries to break the hundred-dollar bill, but gets in a fight after a barkeeper steals his money, and he once again goes to jail.

While in jail, Jurgis meets with Jack Duane , an old friend from his previous jail stint. Duange invites Jurgis into his life of petty thievery, and Jurgis soon becomes involved in all kinds of illegal scams and swindles. He falls in with the Chicago crime scene and soon makes a good deal of money. He then becomes involved in the corrupt Chicago political machine and takes part in a scam to help Mike Scully , the political power of Packingtown, elect a Republican to the city council and to help retain his power. Jurgis makes good money from this scam and gets a job at the packing plant earning more money.

When the great Beef Strike occurs, Jurgis stays at his job and becomes a scab. He earns even more money but begins to drink heavily, gamble, and take part in fights. The packers bring in poor black laborers from the South to break the strike, and Packingtown is soon embroiled in even more filth and debauchery than before. One evening, Jurgis is drunk and walking home when he runs into Connor, the man who raped his wife. He becomes so enraged that he begins to beat Connor again. He is arrested and, though he has political connections now, he cannot get out of jail because Connor was a friend of Scully's. A friend helps him post bail and, now without any money again, Jurgis skips town.

Once again a tramp, Jurgis begs and steals to find food to eat. After going to a political rally in order to stay warm one evening, Jurgis runs into an old friend from Lithuania, who gives him Marija's address. Jurgis finds Marija in a whorehouse, working as a prostitute. Marija tells Jurgis that this is the only way that she could find to provide for herself and the remaining members of the family. Even Stanislovas had been killed by rats after getting locked in a factory at night. Jurgis is suddenly arrested in a raid on the whorehouse. While spending the night in jail, Jurgis descends into the deepest despair of his soul and the voices of his past are extinguished.

After release from jail, Jurgis once again goes to a political rally in order to find a warm place to sit for a while. When he falls asleep in the rally, a young woman calls him "comrade" and tells him that he should pay attention and that maybe he would find something to like in the political speech. Jurgis suddenly becomes fascinated with the speaker, a fiery man, who details all of the economic, social, and political unjustness that keeps workers in poverty and in hardship. Jurgis comes up to the man afterwards and asks to know more. He goes home with a man named Ostrinski, who explains socialism.

Jurgis becomes a proud advocate for the Socialist Party. He goes to work for a man named Hinds, an ardent Socialist, as a hotel porter. He enters a "life of the mind" and learns as much as he can about this political and economic system. He is invited to a dinner at a prominent Socialist's house, where he hears a Socialist intellectual, a preacher of Christian Socialism, and a skeptical newspaper editor debate the merits of a new Socialist world order. After the dinner, Jurgis attends an election night celebration at the Socialist Party headquarters. The number of Socialist votes that come in are extraordinary. The Socialists have increased their voter turnout by over three hundred percent. A speaker rises to tell the crowd to avoid complacency and to fight for the Socialist Party cause and that soon "Chicago will be ours!"

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The Jungle Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Jungle is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

What loaded language does the author use throughout the passge

What passage are you referring to?

In Chapter One, a crisis occurs when the family cannot raise the money needed to pay for the wedding. This results in increased hardships and a darker mood for the family with Jurgis’s promise to “work harder.”

where does Jurgis begin his sentence? why does he remain alone?

Jurgis is sent to Bridewell Prison. He wants to get out in ten days so he tries to stay out of trouble.

Study Guide for The Jungle

The Jungle study guide contains a biography of Upton Sinclair, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About The Jungle
  • Character List

Essays for The Jungle

The Jungle essays are academic essays for citation. These literature papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

  • "The Jungle: Fiction, History, or Both?"
  • Upton Sinclair's Indictment of Wage Slavery in The Jungle
  • Preying on the Immigrant Experience: Sinclair's The Jungle
  • The (Literal) Jungle: Symbolism and Meaning in Sinclair's Narrative
  • Muckrakers: Differing Styles in Upton Sinclair and Eric Schlosser

Lesson Plan for The Jungle

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to The Jungle
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • The Jungle Bibliography

E-Text of The Jungle

The Jungle e-text contains the full text of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

  • Chapters 1-5
  • Chapters 6-10
  • Chapters 11-15
  • Chapters 16-20
  • Chapters 21-25

Wikipedia Entries for The Jungle

  • Introduction
  • Plot summary
  • Publication history

essay about the jungle

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111 pages • 3 hours read

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapters 1-5

Chapters 6-10

Chapters 11-15

Chapters 16-21

Chapters 22-26

Chapters 27-31

Character Analysis

Symbols & Motifs

Important Quotes

Essay Topics

Discussion Questions

Discuss the role that social Darwinist thought plays in The Jungle. In what ways does Sinclair agree with traditional social Darwinists (e.g. Herbert Spencer), and in what ways does he disagree?

What role do Sinclair’s graphic descriptions of spoiled and contaminated meat play in the novel? How do these descriptions relate to other, more symbolic forms of corruption or adulteration?

How does Sinclair depict organized labor in The Jungle ? What does he ultimately argue regarding its ability to address the problems associated with capitalism? Do you agree?

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Banned Books Week

“The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling Essay (Critical Writing)

There is a great number of different masterpieces of literature in the world. Each of them describes some peculiar phenomenon or event. The majority of books are devoted to human beings and their feelings and emotions. There are, however, some works which are devoted to animals and their touching allegiance to people. Being very popular, this issue has always interested people. However, there are not many works which manage to combine description of the life of human beings, animals behaviour and visions of nature, trying to show the authors way of to reflect the real world. One of these works is called The Jungle Book and is written by Rudyard Kipling.

Devoted to the description of the life of a human being, the book, though, manages to combine this description with the visions of nature of the jungle and the laws according to which animals live there.

The main character of the story is a boy called Mowgli. The main peculiarity of this boy is the fact that he was raised by wolves and acts according to their code. In certain period of time this fact was taken as ridiculous and impossible. However, boys like Mowgli were found. That is why, it is possible to say that Kipling created a very interesting story which could be based on some real facts. Mowgli is able to understand animals and communicate with them, following the rules accepted in the jungle. All these facts make him a unique character who is very interesting for people.

Having created his story in the form of a tale, Kipling romanticized the life of animals and human beings in the jungle. However, there is one very important aspect of the jungle which the author describes. It is the law according to which animals live. Kipling uses the term the law of the jungle to describe existing set of codes according to which the community of wolves and other animals is structured. They all should follow it or they will not be able to survive.

All rules which are described by this law are wise and created by generations of animals in order to guarantee their survival. The law of the jungle outlines the main activity of animals, their main food and relations with other species. However, the Bandar-log do not accept these rules. They can be taken as rebels, who do not want to follow the majority. However, Kipling describes them as primitive and disorganised tribe which is not able to guarantee its prosperity. Outlining this fact, the author wants to show great importance of the law and norms which regulate behaviour in society.

Being created by Rudyard Kipling, the term the law of the jungle became very popular, though having changed its main meaning. Nowadays, it is widely used in order not to describe some set of codes accepted in society, but to show special kind of human attitude to the rest of people and his/her role in society. Everyone should take care only of himself/herself and be the strongest to survive in coherent society. This is the meaning of the term which prevails nowadays.

Besides, having read the book, it is impossible to remain indifferent. Having created interesting and fascinating world, Kipling also introduced the new term which described existence of animals in the jungle. The term the law of the jungle became the metaphor which is widely used nowadays.

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IvyPanda. (2020, July 5). "The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-jungle-book-by-rudyard-kipling/

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The Literal and Symbolic Meaning of The Jungle in Sinclair's Narrative

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Upton Sinclair, Jr’s, View of Struggle as Depicted in His Book, The Jungle

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Comparison of Sinclair's The Jungle and Schlosser's Fast Food Nation

Upton sinclair’s indictment of wage slavery in the jungle, analyzing rudyard kipling's rikki-tikki-tavi story as told in the jungle book, interpretation and the meaning behind new trailer for the jungle book, the themes raised and lessons learned in the jungle book, capitalism and its wickedness in the jungle, "fast food nation" and "the jungle": the changes in fast food industry, the possibility to achieve the american dream.

February 26, 1906

Upton Sinclair

Political fiction

Jurgis Rudkus, Ona Lukoszaite Rudkus, Marija Berczynskas, Teta Elzbieta Lukoszaite, Grandmother Swan, Dede Antanas, Jokubas Szedvilas, Edward Marcinkus, Fisher, Tamoszius Kuszleika, Jonas Lukoszas, Stanislovas Lukoszas, Mike Scully, Phil Connor

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essay about the jungle

Rescuers race to help howler monkeys dying in heatwave, in Cunduacan

Megan Janetsky, Associated Press Megan Janetsky, Associated Press

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  • Copy URL https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/heat-is-killing-howler-monkeys-in-mexico

Heat is killing howler monkeys in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The number of heat-related howler monkeys deaths in Mexico has risen to 157, the government said, with a tragically small number of the primates treated or recovering.

Meanwhile, an animal park in northern Mexico confirmed it has received reports that at least a hundred parrots, bats and other animals have died, apparently of dehydration.

A heat dome — an area of strong high pressure centered over the southern Gulf of Mexico and northern Central America — has blocked clouds from forming and caused extensive sunshine and hot temperatures all across Mexico.

Last week, environmentalists had reported that 138 of the midsize primates, known for their roaring vocal calls, had been found dead in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco since May 16. Almost two-thirds of the country are expected to see highs of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday.

Late Sunday the Environment Department reported that number had risen to 157, and that research was continuing into the causes of the deaths.

Wildlife biologist Gilberto Pozo attributed the deaths to a heat stroke, noting a “synergy” of factors — including high heat, drought, forest fires and logging that deprives the monkeys of water, shade and the fruit they eat — appeared to be to blame, while saying a pathogen, disease or other factor can’t yet be ruled out.

The department said deaths were occurring in both Tabasco and the neighboring state of Chiapas, and that 13 monkeys were under treatment and seven had been treated and released back into their habitat. The department said some of the monkeys were being treated for dehydration, and that three were in serious but stable condition.

But with heat, fires, and deforestation hitting the trees where the howler monkeys live, it was unclear whether even releasing them could ensure their survival.

Rescuers race to help howler monkeys dying in heatwave, in Cunduacan

A volunteer carries a kennel to transport a Saraguato monkey (Alouatta palliata) rescued from the jungle after dozens of deaths were reported in Cunduacan, Tabasco state, Mexico, on May 22, 2024. Photo by Luis Manuel Lopez/ Reuters

In the northern state of San Luis Potosi, Ena Buenfil, the director of the Selva Teenek eco-park, told The Associated Press on Monday that her facility has been overwhelmed as parrots, bats, toucans have died due to the heat.

Buenfil said when the heat wave began in mid-May their clinic to help animals quickly filled up with sick birds and they received a wave of reports by locals finding dead or suffering birds.

Because of scarce resources by authorities, Buenfil said the number is likely only a small percentage of the animals affected, but added that their organization has worked with Civil Protection to aid some birds.

Buenfil said birds mainly die of dehydration in the heat, and are often disproportionately affected because they don’t have anywhere to store water. Meanwhile, bats would become dehydrated sleeping in the beating afternoon heat. She recommended that locals put out bowls of water for animals.

“We’ve never seen a situation like what’s happening right now,” she said, adding if they see more heat peaks like this one “there is not going to be much we can do for the animals.”

“There are going to be a lot of casualties to the ecosystem if we continue this trend of heat waves in the region,” said Buenfil.

Normally quite intimidating, howler monkeys are muscular and some can be as tall as 90 centimeters (3 feet), with tails just as long. Some males weigh more than 13.5 kilograms (30 pounds) and can live up to 20 years. They are equipped with big jaws and a fearsome set of teeth and fangs. But mostly they’re know for their lion-like roars, which bely their size.

With below-average rainfall throughout almost all the country so far this year, lakes and dams are drying up, and water supplies are running out. Authorities have had to truck in water for everything from hospitals to fire-fighting teams. Low levels at hydroelectric dams have contributed to power blackouts in some parts of the country.

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essay about the jungle

5 served in Vietnam, 1 came home: Vero Beach High School survivor remembers '66 classmates

The Vietnam War took a heavy toll on the students and families of Vero Beach High School’s Class of 1966. As our involvement in the war deepened, and especially after North Vietnam launched its deadly Tet Offensive, the news of our classmates serving in the Army and killed in action began arriving home one by one:

Spc.4 James Ellis Loudermilk, Dec. 27,1967; Pfc. Franklin Clovis, Feb. 8, 1968; Sgt. Stephan Max Wiggins, March 30, 1968, and, 1 st Lt. Mark Jackson, Oct. 28,1969.  

For the sleepy little town of Vero Beach, and especially the Class of ’66, the Vietnam War was no longer some distant, emotionless event viewed only on the evening news with Walter Cronkite.

These were our classmates. They were our friends. Their lives held as much promise as any of ours. But they answered their nation’s call to arms fighting for their country in Vietnam. 

About the author: Vero Beach dropout reflects on IRSC career, having had life 'scared into him' in Vietnam

The following accounts of our VBHS classmates' respective fates were confirmed by interviewing eyewitnesses, conducting internet searches that produced podcasts, military documents, and written accounts posted on their Army units' websites, the YouTube channel, True Stories of the Vietnam War and several books with detailed accounts of the specific battles where they lost their lives.

On this Memorial Day, I’m honored to share the stories of their fate and final moments of life with their hometown community.

As the saying goes, “The fallen will only be forgotten if we fail to tell their stories!”

Pfc. Franklin Clovis

Franklin arrived in Vietnam on Jan 15, 1968, and was assigned to the 2 nd platoon of Alpha Company, 198 th Light Infantry Brigade. On Thursday morning Feb. 8, Franklin’s 2 nd platoon anchored the left flank of the company’s horizontal skirmish line when they encountered a dike the villagers used to traverse the muddy rice paddy. Hoping to provoke the enemy into revealing their relative strength and armaments, they were ordered to empty a magazine of ammunition into the tree line, disguising the village. 

The battle-hardened North Vietnamese soldiers (NVA) complied by immediately launching human-wave assaults, supported by overwhelming gunfire from their arsenal of weapons. But it was a protrusion in the S-shaped section of the tree line directly in front of Franklin’s 2 nd platoon that created the perilous and inescapable death trap for them. 

By placing the enemy 50 yards closer to the dike than the rest of the forward units, the NVA in the protruding section of the tree line had low-crawled the remaining distance to the dike, where they remained concealed until the 2nd platoon had finished emptying their magazine of ammunition. 

Now the NVA unleashed their savage ambush on Franklin’s 2 nd platoon. They swarmed out of the trench line from their concealed positions on the other side of the dike, making the feared hand-to-hand combat unavoidable. The NVA was so close that many of the men didn’t even have time to insert another clip of ammunition before the enemy was on top of them. 

The 2nd platoon had walked straight into the vortex of the deadly ambush and was quickly being outflanked, encircled and overrun by the numerically superior force. 

Eyewitnesses have Franklin’s 2 nd platoon fighting with everything and anything they had ― rifle butts, handguns, bayonets, helmets, hand-to-hand — it was a ferocious and terrifying fight to the death. To make matters worse, 2 nd platoon and the NVA were so intermingled and engaged in such close-quarter fighting that none of the other platoons could fire in support for fear of risking casualties from friendly fire.

Not wanting to risk losing the entire company, the order was given to withdraw. But it was too late for Franklin’s 2 nd platoon. By enveloping their position, the NVA had cut off their escape route and ended any chance of them surviving the ambush. 

Cut off, Franklin remained at the dike to help provide the cover fire that allowed Alpha Company to gather its wounded and withdraw to safety. After supporting the withdrawal, Franklin rejoined a defensive position at the dike, where he fought valiantly and killed numerous NVA soldiers until he, too, fell mortally wounded. 

Franklin was 20 years old. His headstone is in Section G, Block 2, Lot 021, Space B of Crestlawn Cemetery in Vero Beach. 

1 st Lt. Mark Jackson

Mark arrived in Vietnam July 13, 1969, and was assigned to D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Calvary, 25th Infantry Division. On Tuesday, Oct. 28, Mark was flying a visual reconnaissance mission in his Hughes OH-6 Cayuse light observation helicopter supported by a Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter.

The helicopter tactics developed for Vietnam partnered an observation helicopter (scout) with a heavily armed gunship (Cobra), to create hunter-killer teams. The hunter (scout) would track the enemy by deploying its state-of-the-art human-tracking technology, the people sniffer. 

The bloodhound-analogous technology allowed the scout pilots to track their foe by following the scent trails created from food prep or lingering odors from such human excrements as urine, feces and sweat. Once the scout’s people-sniffer had pinpointed the enemy’s position, the heavily armed Cobra would swoop in and expend its inventory of rocket and machine gun ordnance to decimate the enemy force.   

At approximately 10 on Tuesday morning Oct. 28, Mark dropped his scout down and started following a prominent enemy trail that ended in a wall of trees that stood some 75 to 100 feet tall. And when Mark reached the tree line, the enemy unleashed a hail of automatic weapons fire, knocking his scout out of the sky. 

Circling above in their Cobra gunship, the aircraft commander, Lt. Sam Dooling, and pilot-gunner CW2 Jack Craig, observed Mark’s helicopter nosedive and crash into the dense tree line below.

Following the green-and-yellow tracer trail from the enemy’s gunfire to pinpoint their position, they expended the Cobra’s inventory of rocket and machine gun ammunition directly into the area.

Once the gunfire was suppressed, they landed the Cobra gunship and attempted to rescue Mark, his crew chief and forward observer. After Jack and Sam pulled the two crew members to safety, Jack crawled on top of the mangled scout and squirmed through an almost impenetrable wall of thick jungle vegetation to reach the pilot’s bubble. But unfortunately, he found Mark had sustained a fatal head wound and had been killed instantly.

Mark was 21. His headstone is in Section A, Block 1, Lot 092, Space A of Crestlawn Cemetery. 

Spc. 4 James Ellis Loudermilk

James arrived in Vietnam on April 24, 1967, and was assigned to Charlie Company, 4 th Battalion, 12 th Infantry, 199 th Light Infantry Brigade. James was the radio operator for the first platoon and was attached at the hip with his platoon leader, 1 st Lt. Richard Solczyk.

At 8:15 Wednesday morning, Dec. 27, Charlie Company boarded helicopters to pursue an elusive enemy force in the Bien Hoa region. The company was on the ground by 8:30 a.m. and moved out in pursuit of the combined North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong force that had remained concealed and undetected by the jungle’s triple-layered canopy. 

Around 9:25 a.m., the company came across two Vietcong bodies lying near an abandoned bunker complex. After finding a blood trail, the battalion was contacted to have a combat-tracker team flown in to find the elusive enemy. Once the dogs and handlers arrived, the four platoons were collapsed into a column of twos to quicken the pace and minimize the noise from a large body of men trekking through the dense jungle foliage.  

At approximately 2 p.m., the trackers spotted three Vietcong setting up a huge (36 inches in diameter), Claymore-type mine directly in the path of the approaching company. The handlers paused to send directions back to the column to go around the mine and avoid the deadly blast radius. Once passed, they could cut the wires and disable the explosive device. 

As the lead column approached the mine’s location, Solzcyk and James went left with the 1 st squad, while the 2 nd squad went right to avoid the deadly blast area. But for some inexplicable reason, Solzcyk discarded the scout team’s warning and left the safety of the line. With his radiotelephone operator in tow, he moved toward the mine for a closer look. And when Solzcyk and James entered the kill zone, one of the three previously observed Vietcong detonated the mine from his concealed position. 

A lightly wounded Spc. 4 Tim Szelagowski rushed forward to see if he could offer assistance to his platoon leader and radiotelephone operator, but unfortunately, he found that Solczyk had been killed instantly and James was mortally wounded. James spent his last few seconds of life in Szelagowski’s arms, where he took his final breath. 

James was 20 years old.  His headstone is in Section G, Block 2, Lot 032, Space A of Crestlawn Cemetery. 

Sgt. Stephan Max Wiggins

Steve arrived in Vietnam on July 28, 1967, and was assigned to C-Troop, 3 rd Squadron, 5 th Calvary, 9 th Infantry Division. 

As track commander of the 16-track (1 st platoon, #6 armored vehicle), Steve occupied the cupola seat on top of the track and manned the 50-caliber machine gun. Each track was also equipped with two M-60 machine guns to bolster firepower. 

On Saturday March 30, 1968, C-Troop was conducting a search-and-destroy mission in an area where they had received intelligence reports of enemy activity. Around 1:30 p.m., C-Troop's six armored vehicles were in an online (horizontal) assault position with the tracks spaced 20-25 yards apart, when they encountered a hedge-row-type obstacle that the tracks had paused to negotiate.

Except for Steve's 16-track.

Unlike the other armored vehicles, there was a break in the berm directly in front of Steve’s vehicle, allowing it to continue moving forward unimpeded. After advancing some 20-25 yards ahead of the others, Steve’s 16-track entered the kill zone of an awaiting NVA ambush.  

Out front, Steve’s vehicle functioned like a huge metal magnet as the enemy concentrated its barrage of rocket, machine gun and automatic weapons fire in an attempt to destroy the intruder that had encroached on their entrenched position.  

According to Steve’s best friend and eyewitness, Sgt. Ed Kosmalski, multiple rocket-propelled grenades scored direct hits on the front, sides and rear of Steve’s vehicle, while automatic weapons and machine gun fire simultaneously riddled the lightly armored track.  The intense hailstorm of rocket explosions and other pyrotechnics set the 16-track on fire and blew Steve out of the track commander’s position, toppling him to the ground. 

With the battle still raging, C-Troop’s medic, Spc. 4 Earnest Garcia, rushed forward to aid Steve, but found him mortally wounded from the numerous rocket fragmentations and bullet wounds he had sustained during the initial torrent of enemy fire. 

Steve was 20 years old. His headstone is in Section G, Block 2, Lot 045, Space B of Crestlawn Cemetery.  

Harvey Arnold, 76, of Tallahassee, was classmates of the aforementioned men before dropping out of school and joining the Army in January 1965. He served a year in Vietnam before returning home, getting his education, including a Ph.D. in economics, and serving as a professor and administrator at Indian River State College for 44 years, including 17 as provost/president of the Ken Pruitt Campus in Port St. Lucie. Email: [email protected]

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Papua New Guinea Landslide Has Buried 2,000 People, Officials Say

Just getting to survivors has proved to be an enormous challenge, with a blocked highway and unstable ground “posing ongoing danger” to rescue workers.

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By Damien Cave

Reporting from Sydney, Australia

More than 2,000 people were buried alive in the landslide that smothered a Papua New Guinea village and work camp on Friday in the country’s remote northern highlands, the authorities told the United Nations on Monday.

Government officials visited the disaster site on Sunday. And even as the official death toll jumped from a few dozen to 670, they warned that far more victims than expected appeared to still be caught under the rubble.

Satellite images show size of landslide

Highlands Highway

Site of landslide

Satellite images by Planet Labs on May 15 and May 26, 2024.

By Agnes Chang

“The landslide buried more than 2,000 people alive and caused major destruction to buildings, food gardens and caused major impact on the economic lifeline of the country,” Lusete Laso Mana, an official in the national disaster center, said in a letter to the United Nations.

The letter stressed that rescue efforts continued to be a challenge. The main highway to the area is blocked, the letter said, and the ground remains unstable as water flows beneath the rocks, shifting land and “posing ongoing danger to both the rescue teams and survivors alike.”

The region, in Enga Province, is densely populated and located near the Porgera gold mine operated by Barrick Gold, a company based in Canada, in collaboration with Zijin Mining, a Chinese group. It is an area of remote and difficult jungle terrain, in a country of around 12 million people that sits just north of Australia. Tropical and divided along tribal, ethnic and linguistic lines, Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources but largely underdeveloped, making it especially vulnerable to natural disasters, which strike frequently.

The landslide took place in a populated area

Port Moresby

Less populated

More populated

Sources: Kontur; Humanitarian Data Exchange; WorldPop; Open Street Map

By Pablo Robles

U.N. officials have been closely monitoring the situation. And with the latest estimate in hand, they emphasized that the need for assistance would be long-term and complicated.

“This situation necessitates immediate action and international support to mitigate further losses and provide essential aid to those affected,” said Anne Mandal, a spokesperson for the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration.

Over the weekend, the agency estimated that, on top of the toll of dead and missing, more than 250 houses had been abandoned as residents feared additional slippage, with roughly 1,250 people displaced. The numbers, including those reported Monday, could not be independently verified.

Just getting to survivors has proved to be an enormous challenge. An aid convoy reached the area on Saturday afternoon to deliver tarps and water, but no food. On Sunday, the local government secured food and water for around 600 people, according to the U.N., but heavy equipment still had not made it through, leaving people to search for bodies on dangerous, unstable debris using small shovels and pitchforks.

Tribal feuds have also added to the post-disaster safety risks.

Ruth Kissam, a community organizer in Enga Province, said giant boulders fell from the land of one tribe onto a residential town occupied by another tribe.

“There will be tension,” she said. “There is already tension.”

Even before the disaster, the region had been experiencing tribal clashes that led people to flee surrounding villages, with many ending up concentrated in the community buried in the landslide. In September of last year, much of Enga was in a government lockdown and under a curfew, with no flights in or out.

Now, as the search for the dead and living continues, anger and violence have been intensifying.

On Saturday morning, a quarrel flared between two clans, leaving people dead and dozens of houses burned down, said Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration’s office in Papua New Guinea. He added that the threat of violence makes it harder to deliver aid.

Papua New Guinea officials also stressed a need for calm.

“Following the inspection conducted by the team, it was determined that the damages are extensive and require immediate and collaborative actions from all players,” said the letter from government officials who visited the site.

The landslide struck the village about 3 a.m. Friday, when many residents were asleep. Some of the boulders that buried houses and cut off a major highway were larger than shipping containers. Even in a region with frequent heavy storms and earthquakes, the landslide has drawn intense expressions of grief from within the country and beyond — including the White House.

“Jill and I are heartbroken by the loss of life and devastation caused by the landslide in Papua New Guinea,” President Biden said in a statement after the disaster. “Our prayers are with all the families impacted by this tragedy and all the first responders who are putting themselves in harm’s way to help their fellow citizens.”

Christopher Cottrell contributed reporting.

An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of the chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration’s office in Papua New Guinea. He is Serhan Aktoprak, not Seran.

How we handle corrections

Damien Cave is an international correspondent for The Times, covering the Indo-Pacific region. He is based in Sydney, Australia.  More about Damien Cave


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