MY FRIEND DUKE MANUEL — KILLED IN VIET NAM
Duke was a friend and teammate of mine at Asbury Park High School. So I was thinking about him yesterday, MEMORIAL DAY.
I can’t ever remember him not smiling and being upbeat.
He was a very short guy and was built like a true athlete, and had plenty of heart.
Duke came from the other side of town known as Springwood Ave. A local ghetto.
He sang Doo-Wop music and was a member of a group called the Juveniles. They were outstanding.
I remember him as being a tough little ballplayer with plenty of talent. What he didn’t have in size, he made up for with guts and speed. He had terrific instincts.
On the field, his moment of glory came when we were playing New Brunswick. Duke was playing defensive back. The New Brunswick Quarterback dropped back to pass. A lone Asbury Park lineman was pursuing him. As he was about to pass, the lineman hurdled the only blocker and grabbed the quarterback by the top of his helmet, pulling him back as the ball was released. The ball went straight up in the air, and Duke grabbed it on the run. It was a sensational interception. Oh, if Duke could only have broken away.
A few years ago, we went to Washington DC for a vacation. While there, we visited many sights, but there was none as impressive as the Viet Nam Wall. Duke was the only soldier I knew out of all the thousands there. We located his name. I touched the wall and said a prayer for him.
I’ll never forget you, Duke. Thank you for your sacrifice. We will always remember you, your good nature, and your smile.