1968: MCHS wrestler DeCoste dies in Vietnam


M-Di-An yearbook, 1966-67

David Anthony DeCoste graduated from MCHS in 1966. This is his senior yearbook photo. He served in Vietnam and died in 1968. A wrestling award at MCHS was later named for him.

Cassady Cundari, Editor-in-Chief

Note: This story, as well as one on Charles Warner Becker, accompany part 2 of a series featured in the Oct. 23 print issue of the PPC on MCHS in Vietnam. 


David Anthony DeCoste grew up on a farm, competed on the MCHS varsity wrestling team in the Sixties, and gave his life in the Vietnam War before he could even legally order a drink.

“As kids, I followed you and you allowed it,” commented DeCoste’s brother, Barry on his page in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website. “I always looked up to you, and you set a good example.”

Also on the website, his childhood friend, Art Neff, fondly recalls them catching and cooking frog legs with Barry, sharing the good times of their youth, and playing little league baseball together in Tinley Park.

Raised in a family rooted in values of God and Country, DeCoste graduated from Minooka in 1966. According to a Peace Pipe Chatter issue from October 1965, he was born in Chicago and transferred to Minooka from Tinley Park High that year. He shared with the PPC that his favorite pastime was riding horses and that he was eager to play on the wrestling team for the school, calling Minooka “small, but unique.”

By senior year, DeCoste had earned 6 varsity letters from wrestling, track and cross country, finishing in the honor roll. After graduation, he left college to volunteer for the Army.

“(He knew he) was putting himself in harm’s way when others tried to get out of it,” commented Barry.

From those baseball fields, to the hallways of MCHS, and finally to the jungles of Vietnam, DeCoste upheld his patriotic values of honor and sacrifice.

DeCoste’s tour began on Aug. 25, 1967, in Kontum, South Vietnam.

On Jan. 20, 1968, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website detailed that DeCoste died from multiple fragmentation wounds after a hostile attack from the Vietnamese ending his life, but not his legacy.

Barry commented how in the early months of 1968, one of his wounded comrades from Michigan made a phone call to DeCoste’s father detailing how DeCoste had given his life to save his own, voicing his undying appreciation for such a great act of heroism.

Furthermore, a 1979 issue of the PPC acknowledged the Dave DeCoste award, which was established shortly after his death and recognizes wrestlers for their accomplishments in the sport.

DeCoste acted with valor, unwavering in the face of adversity, and Minooka has not forgotten his noble sacrifice from 50 years ago.