Captain John G. Gardner, USMC, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship honors Captain John Garrett Gardner, U.S. Marine Corps, a native of Spring Creek in Madison County, NC. Garrett graduated from Spring Creek High School in 1959, Mars Hill Junior College in 1961, and the University of Georgia in 1964 with a degree in forestry.

At age 26, Captain Gardner was listed as "Missing In Action" after the rescue helicopter he was piloting was shot down by enemy ground fire in Laos, Southeast Asia. He received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal and numerous other awards while proudly serving with the USMC in Vietnam.

The Federal Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office began gathering information on Gardner's case in 1973. Following interviews with local villagers and the discovery of remains and other evidence at several test sites, a full excavation of the Laotian jungle crash site was conducted in February 1999. Captain Gardner's remains were recovered in 1999 and positively identified a year later. On September 8, 2000, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Captain Gardner's mother bequeathed funds to Local Chapter 124, Vietnam Veterans of America, Asheville, NC. Members of Local 124, VVA, felt it appropriate and a great honor to the Gardner family to establish this scholarship fund, the purpose of which is to assist the relatives or descendants (which can include children, stepchildren and grandchildren) of active duty decorated Vietnam Veterans in their quest for higher education.


One-time $1,000

Number Of Awards

Three Awards


Jan. 22, 2024


Graduating public or private high school seniors who are residents of the 18 westernmost counties and who will attend an accredited U.S. community college or 4-year college or university on a full-time basis in the fall following the award.

CFWNC ensures that all scholarship recipients are selected on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis and that selections are based on specific guidelines and criteria for each fund.

Selection Criteria


  • Decoration Proof of Sponsor: Vietnam service medal or ribbon (photocopy OK)
  • Military Proof of Sponsor: DD214 *


  • High School diploma or equivalent, in award year
  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Sound academic performance
  • Plans to enroll full-time in college or university, in award year
  • In addition to the Personal Statement asked for on the application, an essay is REQUIRED for this scholarship. (1) Please tell us the name of the active-duty decorated Vietnam Era Veteran and your relationship; (2) what that person's military service means to you; (3) talk with a veteran of any war and ask him or her to briefly discuss the war experience; and (4) describe what knowledge or understanding you gained from that conversation. Your essay should be saved in a Word file, double-spaced, and no more than three pages long, uploaded to the essay question in the online application.

* If you need assistance obtaining a DD214 for your relative's service, contact the Veterans Administration regional office by calling 1-800-827-1000.

To Apply

To apply, students must complete an application online. The application, with required attachments, must be submitted online on or before the deadline. Award Year 2024 closed.

Application Procedure

The scholarship program is administered by The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Please direct any questions about this scholarship to the foundation, at

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