Man pays tribute to 27 schoolmates killed in Vietnam War

- The very sight of the 27 names etched into this memorial outside Father Judge High is enough to fill retired U.S. marine and Vietnam vet Jim Kirlin with emotion.

Many of them friends and classmates with shared memories, both the good and bad.

“Jack Benson Silver Star U.S. Army he dove on a grenade he was a great football player and athlete," recalls Kirlin as he points to his friends name in the memorial.

Kirlin survived and he's often felt guilty for that. The loss off loved ones is endured by hundreds of Philadelphia families across the city and beyond. This is why Kirlin decided to spearhead the making of a documentary about "The Father Jugde 27." He says he felt he had to.

"It's a way to give back, it's a story that needs to be told," said Kirlin.

"It leaves a huge void in their life. Yet we are left with their accomplishments their commitment, not just to their country but to each other, strongest bond of all." said School principle Fr. Judge.

Incoming Father Judge Principal and veteran of the Persian Gulf War Peter Chapla says he couldn't feel more honored to continue the legacy of the 27.  His father, also a Vietnam vet.

"We had in last year’s graduating class 13 young men who enlisted in the armed services out of 187 graduating," said Principal Chapla.

A memorial stand of lockers paying tribute to the fallen Father Judge grads can be found on the third floor. Other references are sprinkled throughout. Now, Jim Kirlin wants everybody to know who they were.

"It's a history that affects everybody. War is not fun, leaves a hole in your sole," says Kirlin.

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