Members of the 198th Infantry Division tending to wounded in Vietnam
ROBERT LAWRENCE JANOWITZ
Branch of Service: Army
Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Service years: 1966-1968
Glen Rock: Lived in Glen Rock and Glen Rock High School graduate, class of 1962
The Vietnam War, lasting from 1954 to 1975, was America’s longest war. Its goal was to stop communism from spreading into South Vietnam and many brave men gave their lives for this. By the time the war ended, the death toll of American deaths in Vietnam totaled 58,193. The year that the highest number of American deaths occurred in Vietnam was in 1968 with a total of 16,592 lives lost. Among the men lost that year was a man from a small town in New Jersey named Robert Lawrence Janowitz.
Janowitz was born on September 27, 1944, to Dr. Aaron J. and Helen Janowitz. His family lived in Glen Rock. He was a fan of the New York Yankees and admired those who fought during World War II. Janowitz attended high school at Glen Rock High School. During his time here, he was part of the fencing and baseball teams, as well as the manager of the football team. In addition to sports, he was part of the photography club. Janowitz graduated from GRHS in June of 1962 with future plans of becoming a dentist, just like his father.
Robert Janowitz enrolled in the University of Maryland in the fall of 1962. In the meantime, tensions about the war in Vietnam began to grow back home. By May of 1966, around the time that he was supposed to graduate, 36% of Americans believed that troops should not be in Vietnam. However, Janowitz disagreed with this. While attending the university, he helped organize a group that supported the war. His belief led him to enlist in the army four months before he was to graduate. However, he planned to “come back and graduate.”
After a few years of training, Janowitz was sent to Vietnam with Charlie Company of the 46th Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade. He then joined the Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade on May 9, 1968. During his time in Vietnam, Janowitz was appointed as a 1st Lieutenant.
On September 15, 1968, the 1-20th Infantry began Operation Champaign Grove, an 8-day operation in the Ha Thanh area. The purpose of it was to find and destroy parts of the North Vietnamese Army, as well as stop supply routes to Quang Ngai and prevent an attack on Quang Ngai City. However, on September 18, as Delta Company was traveling to aid another company, enemy fire began to rain down on the men. The Company fired back and the two fought until the enemy broke contact during the night. This attack resulted in 10 US deaths, one of them being Lt. Robert Lawrence Janowitz.
Janowitz was killed while in a blocking force that was ordered by the Commander. He was getting his group ready to meet the enemy as the main group did a “John Wayne” charge toward their position. However, his platoon was damaged greatly, for all the main leaders were killed. When the enemy first opened fire, he had been only 30 feet away from them. He was only 23 when he died.
Those who knew Janowitz only said kind words about him. Bill Morstein, who was his college roommate for two years, described him as being “so full of life, and so giving and caring.” Morstien named one of his children after Robert to keep his memory alive. John Arias, who served with Janowitz, remembers him for his sense of humor and his leadership. Janowitz was a caring man, for both E. Dickey and Robert Dawson, men who also served with him, state that he made sure that his men were in a safe position and did his best to keep them out of harm’s way. James F. Tent, a close friend of his since kindergarten, even dedicated a book about the naval aspect of the Normandy Invasion in his memory:
"If given a choice, Bob would probably have preferred that his name appear in a work devoted to his life-long heroes, the New York Yankees. However, he would also be pleased with this study of a subject that fascinated us both since childhood: the men and women who answered the call to arms in World War II. Like so many of them, Bob volunteered for duty, but in another war, deliberately placing himself in harm's way even though he was by nature a gentleman. Like so many of the heroes of our childhood, he refused to abandon friends in danger, and, like them, he paid with his life. We miss you every day, Bob."
A memorial service was held at the Temple Israel in Ridgewood, New Jersey on September 29, 1969, for Janowitz. He is buried in Beverly National Cemetery in Beverly, New Jersey.
Born: 1944, Glen Rock, New Jersey
Died: 1968, Quang Ngai, Republic of Vietnam