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home : opinions : letters to the editor October 4, 2015

11/6/2012 7:30:00 AM
Remembering the names on the wall

To the editor:

When I was a youngster, we learned that Nov. 11 was Armistice Day, the day the guns went silent in 1918 to end the bloodbath of World War I. On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, the war came to an end.

Of course, Nov. 11 has become Veterans Day, to honor all of us who have served. This year, I would like to pay special tribute to the warriors of my generation, the Vietnam War.

Most readers know there was no welcome home ceremony for the veterans, the wounded, the dead of that horrible conflict. That is, until the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Recently, I published an article dealing with my odyssey to locate one of my high school classmates from Ohio. While I served in the U.S. Marine Corps Aviation, my classmate was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a Navy Aviator. After years of searching, finally enough documents were declassified, and I discovered his fate. He was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. His plane crashed and exploded, and he will be forever officially listed as "Missing In Action."

His final resting place, figuratively if not literally, is on a spot on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, and on a MIA marker in Arlington National Cemetery. Most of your readers probably don't know the details of the horrible American sacrifice commemorated by the wall. Allow me to present the numbers for them here, and refresh the memories of those who do remember:

- There are 58,267 names of dead Americans on the wall.

- 39,996 were age 22 or younger.

- 33,103 were just 18 years old.

- 997 were killed on their first official day in Vietnam.

- 1,448 were killed on their last official day in Vietnam.

- Eight women nurses are on the wall.

- The most names killed on a single day is 245, on Jan. 31, 1968.

- The most for a single month is 2,415, in May 1968.

- 32 parents lost two sons.

- Three sets of fathers and sons are on the wall.

- 31 sets of brothers are on the wall.

- Of the 244 Vietnam War Medal of Honor winners, 153 are on the wall.

- My high school classmate Lt. John D. Prudhomme is on the wall.

Elmo E. Roach, Pelican Lake

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Article comment by: Sue Schneider

A moving tribute to remind us all of the horrors suffered by so many. Thank you for sharing. The time is long past to start embracing the Vietnam vets. I hope many can come to the free Veterans Day Concert presented by the Rhinelander Area Community Band on Sunday, November 11, 3 p.m., at the James Williams Middle School auditorium. Stand up and be proud!

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