Wall should be reserved for those killed in combat
Recently the mother of a Vietnam veteran who died during a training exercise off the coast of Vietnam tugged at the heartstrings of Sen. Chuck Schumer and suggested that her son’s name should be included on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. In what can be considered a knee-jerk reaction, Schumer stated that if it would help the mother with her grief, so be it.
Let’s take a moment to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of two pilots during the Vietnam War.
One is flying a fighter jet participating in a staged dogfight training drill over the China Sea and is killed in an unfortunate mishap in the air. The other is flying a helicopter over the Mekong Delta attempting to evacuate ground troops being overrun by Viet Cong fighters and, tragically, is shot down by enemy ground fire, captured, tortured and killed.
The first deserves our utmost respect and gratitude for honorably serving his country along with our heartfelt mourning and condolences to his family for his tragic loss of life. The second deserves to be respectfully honored and remembered for his tragic loss of life while engaged in a combat situation.
It is my firm belief that the implied intent and thought process for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was predicated on honoring and remembering the 53,000-plus American patriots who tragically paid the ultimate price while engaged in a combat situation.
It is my hope that Schumer will demonstrate common sense and decency in not compromising the integrity of the memorial and preserve the dignity of those truly deserving their rightful place on the Wall.
John V. Hari
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran