Sunday, September 28, 2008

Note from Vet "cokecop"

I just got this email from "" He read my entry on the Virtual Wall:

"From one of the survivors of Viet Nam, your entry and story of your dad was inspiring to read. Thanks for writing it. Viet Nam greatly impacted our generations. Over the years, I've tried to put it all behind me. I lost friends in Nam, as I was assigned to the 179th Assault Support Helicopters in Camp Holloway, Pleiku. US Army. Left as a flight engineer on chinooks. After being back in the "world" one month, I wanted to volunteer to return, so I understand your dad's doing so. I didn't go back, knowing they couldn't guarantee I wouldn't go back to Holloway. I didn't want to return there. Now, due to the Internet, my past is coming back to me.
Sorry your dad had to be one of those who didn't come back."

I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear from so many Vets who have found solace and fellowship through the Internet. Thank You, "cokecop" !

Sunday, August 03, 2008

SDIT Member's "Missing In America" project

SDIT member Nina McCoy, the head of the body donation program at Western University, has organized military funerals for the cremated remains of unidentified veterans. Partnering with the national Missing in America Project, which seeks to find the remains of missing Vietnam veterans, she organized proper burials for the created remains of some of these veterans in the Riverside National Cemetery. Reported by David Goldstein for CBS 2 News Los Angeles July 31, 2008.

Nina - I tip my hat to you! What a wonderful and noble project.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

HUGSS (Helping Unite Gold Star Survivors)

From the HUGSS website: "HUGSS (Helping Unite Gold Star Survivors) is a non-profit 501c(3) charitable organization with the emphasis of providing needed support to surviving families whether mom, dad, a brother/sister, daughter or son, who have lost their lives as a member of our military. The purpose of the organization is to provide care and services to all families who have suffered the loss of a Soldier, Marine, Airman, Sailor or Guardsman with a primary focus on the Gold Star Families. This includes facilitating support groups, coordinating events, as well as linking families to community resources and services. HUGSS will also be available for community training and serves as a resource for the Military Family."

Uncertain Death/Lingering Grief

Anita Creamer's father was shot down over Vietnam in 1972 and his body was never recovered. Listed as missing for many years, Anita and her family suffered from not knowing if he was dead or alive. My heart goes out to you, Anita, and all families of MIA/POW. At least I had the closure of knowing for sure that my dad was dead.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

New Book about How America Honors her Dead

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jim Sheeler's “Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives" documents the way America honors her war dead. George Will reviews this book in the Washington Post.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Subject of Loss = Unpopular Film

On the last day in May, the original Memorial Day, an article appeared in the San Diego Tribune about the movie, Grace is Gone. The movie is about a family left to deal with the grief of losing a wife/mother/soldier to the Iraq War. This movie never even opened in San Diego, and only played in seven (total!) theatres nationwide. Bad movie or unpopular subject? You decide - the film is available on DVD and features a profile of TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a program to assist families who've lost a loved one serving in the military).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Dollar for Every Name on the Wall

The Sons and Daughters in Touch fundraiser, One Dollar for Every Name on the Wall,is in full swing! The campaign’s goal is to raise at least $1 for each of the more than 58,000 names on The Wall to support SDIT and the building of the Vietnam Veterans Education Memorial Center. Sons and Daughters in Touch (SDIT), a national organization of Americans who lost their fathers in the Vietnam War, is teaming up with nationally syndicated radio host Rusty Humphries to raise more than $58,000 for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, an educational facility being built by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The SDIT National Radiothon will air May 23, 24 and 26 during the nationally syndicated Rusty Humphries Show on Talk Radio Network. SDIT has pledged to raise $1 for every name on The Wall. Currently, there are 58,260 names.

Read more here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

National Moment of Remembrance

In 2000, Congress passed Public Law 106-579 and created the White House Commission on Remembrance. As the only active White House Commission established by law, this independent government agency's mission is to "encourage Americans to honor the sacrifices of America’s fallen and the families they left behind. It promotes acts of remembrance throughout the year and asks Americans to pay our debt of gratitude in memory of our fallen by giving something back to the Nation. The Commission is also tasked to unite the country in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day.

The Commission is dedicated to educating this and future generations of Americans to remember the sacrifices and costs in human life made to preserve our liberties, and to instill in them an understanding of what it means to be an American. This Commission was inspired when schoolchildren who were asked what Memorial Day meant answered "it's the day that pools open!"

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Turning Grief Into Art

Artist Tom Hubbard, whose father, Sgt. Thomas P. Kindt (USMC) was killed in Vietnam in 1966, creates wonderful ceramics and art installations from family photos and photos from Vietnam. Turning grief into art is a fantastic, grueling, cathartic activity. His exhibit, SEMPER FIDELIS: How I Met My Father, is a fine-art exhibition which incorporates after-action reports, photos, letters and journal entries. It is the result of Tom’s quest to know his father. Tom traveled across the US and Vietnam on his journey. “The loss of my father in Vietnam has shaped me as a person, a husband, a father and an artist,” Tom said.
SEMPER FIDELIS: How I Met My Father will be on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps from May 23 through July 7, 2008. The museum is in Quantico, VA – 36 miles south of Washington, DC. For more information, visit or

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Visit the Digital Vietnam Wall

Check out this new digital edition of the Vietnam Wall! You can search the names inscribed on The Wall to find photos and stories about the soldiers. The National Archives and collaborated to create this wonderful new website. Check out my dad's page:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Things They Saved

Here's a poem I wrote:

The Things They Saved

Are defined by the things they did not save:
The stained jungle knife
The vertebrae necklace
The gold ring
The noble heritage –
Those things brought ghosts.

Some things were saved:
A black trunk
An empty uniform
A musty flag
Hieroglyph letters
Disembodied medals
A forever widow.
The child

Opens the trunk
Seeks the ring
Inhales the dust
Translates fragments
Imagines incorrect ghosts.

Saved by sacrifice and amnesia
The child grows old
In a boneless house
Roof patched with dim photos
Silent medals lurk in dark closets.
Moth-eaten and stained,
The flag cannot cover.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gold Medal of Remembrance

This article appeared in the The Washington Times on October 30, 2007

Fallen troops' children honored;
Award shows nation's support

By Sean Lengell


The sons and daughters of servicemen who lost their lives while serving in Iraq were awarded the Gold Medal of Remembrance yesterday at a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

Congress created the award to recognize children of military personnel killed in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"A loss on the battlefield is also a terrible loss at home," said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat and co-host of the afternoon ceremony at the Russell Senate Office Building.

The ceremony was organized by the White House Commission on Remembrance and attended by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff. Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, was the event's other co-host.

"I had no idea so many people mourned and prayed with us; it's just amazing," said award recipient Cali Baldwin, 11, of Gulfport, Miss., whose father, Navy Builder Chief Joel E. Baldwin, was killed in a 2004 suicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq.

Others honorees were:

* Kelsi, 14, and Evan Lamberson, 11, whose father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Randall L. Lamberson of Springfield, Mo., died from injuries sustained when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb last year in Ramadi, Iraq.

* Chandler, 13, Elle, 11, and Bailey Downs, 10, whose father, Air Force Maj. William "Brian" Downs, stationed at Hurlburt Field, Fla., was killed in 2005 in Diyala province in eastern Iraq, in a crash of an Iraqi air force aircraft during a training mission.

* Helena, 9, and Rachel Edge, 4, daughters of Marine Capt. James C. Edge of Virginia Beach, who was killed by enemy fire in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2005, were not present and will receive their award later. Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, accepted the award on behalf of the family.

* Nicole Engeman, 22, daughter of Army Chief Warrant Officer John W. Engeman of East Northport, N.Y., who was killed in Iraq last year, received the medal during a ceremony at the Pentagon earlier in the day. Her brother, Army Lt. Patrick Engeman, 22, was presented with the award simultaneously in Iraq, where he is serving. The ceremonies were connected through a video teleconferencing link.

"It has almost been two years, and I've almost gotten to the point where I can say his name without crying, and I come here and I've been crying the whole time," said Miss Engeman of Bluefield, W.Va. "But it's also eye-opening to see so many other kids here, and my heart just goes out to them."

More than 200 Gold Medals of Remembrance have been awarded since last year.

The White House Commission on Remembrance - an independent, nonpartisan government agency - was established by Congress in 2000 to encourage Americans to honor military personnel killed during service as well as their families.