Douglas Cain - Corporal
We would like to thank Douglas Michael Cain’s brothers and sisters - Tom, Phil, Kelly and Annie - for collaborating to tell Doug’s story.
Douglas Michael Cain was born on July 21, 1944 in Sioux City, Iowa, the second of five children. He lived there his entire life, except for his years at Iowa State.
Like many others, Doug was a Cub Scout and had a paper route. Phil remembers summertime activities like chasing butterflies on the big hill behind the house, collecting lightning bugs in a jar or putting sticks in the water and watching them float along; typical things kids did in the 40’s and early 50’s before the age of TV. They would play until Mom called them in for supper. Doug, of course, would have preferred to continue playing.
Phil remembers how happy Doug was to get a new 3-speed bike with thin tires; fairly uncommon then as most had the bigger balloon tires and only one speed.
Doug was interested in nature from an early age. He liked to bird watch and collect leaves and insects. Kelly remembers that he often took her and Annie and their mother to local parks. “He spent a lot of time laughing and teasing us as we explored.” Annie remembers sitting on the front porch with him and mom. “He taught me about constellations and would quiz me to see if I remembered the Big Dipper. I remember trying really hard to get them right”.
Doug graduated from Sioux City Central High School in 1962. That fall he went to ISU, along with two buddies. As a freshman he lived in Westgate Hall. Later he lived off campus, first near downtown and then in an apartment on Beech Street. Doug had a 1949 Dodge; a real jalopy. Even though it was ancient he took immaculate care of it and did a lot of the maintenance himself. He drove it around campus and on trips from Ames to Sioux City.
His family was fairly average and fairly close-knit. They would get together for picnics several times each year. Doug, Phil, their Dad and Grandpa Vick, along with family friend Arnold Hansing, loved to play horseshoes at these picnics. Hours and hours of horseshoes. A few Falstaffs were consumed in the process. Many memories were formed from these family outings.
Doug's siblings remember Doug’s trips home from college as a time of great excitement and fun. Kelly recalls that when he came home from ISU he would often bring gifts - a favorite teddy bear…a Huckleberry Hound night light. Tom remembers one spring night being awakened by Doug throwing pebbles at the window. “We snuck out and, with the motor off for the first block to avoid waking anyone, drove to a restaurant at 3 am for a hamburger and grown up talk about ISU. High excitement for me.”
Doug was an education major and came close to graduating. Part of his senior year was spent in Des Moines as a student teacher; an assignment he really enjoyed. He told his mom that he knew he had chosen the right profession.
As sometimes happens, events overtake us and change the course of our lives. This happened to Doug. In Ames, he fell in love. Although unsure what happened, the relationship fell apart, and so, in a way, did Doug.
Losing his way only lasted a few weeks, but given the times it was enough to change his destiny. By not completing enough courses that winter he lost his student deferment and was drafted in early 1967.
Doug entered basic training in August of that year. Later he went to advanced training in a Scout Dog Unit. He had a great love for animals so the German Shepherds he trained in the Army - named "Rip" and "Elf" - were very special to him. He wrote many letters home - usually one a day - letting his family know about them and his life as a dog handler. He often went to the PX for a Pepsi and cheeseburgers for himself and the dogs.
Doug’s final visit home was in the early summer of 1968. Phil’s last memory of Doug was taking him to the airport with Dad for his flight to Vietnam. ”He marched away from us very erect and with his orders in hand and never looked back or waved goodbye. I often thought that strange, but I think he had a premonition of not making it back alive.”
He was sent to Vietnam as a member of a US Army Dog Scout Unit, assigned to the 9th Infantry Division. He continued to write letters. In some, he expressed his concern for the Vietnamese children in his area. He tried to do what he could for them in the short time he was there. Doug was killed while on patrol on July 14, 1968, just short of his twenty-fourth birthday. He is buried in Sioux City alongside his parents and grandparents.
Doug was intelligent, popular and had many friends. He was a leader. He brought fun and liveliness to his home. In short, he was a great brother. With his passing, the family was never quite the same.
His siblings said, "He will always be 'Our Dougie'."