On this Memorial Day, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is dedicated to the 58,318 Americans who gave their lives in service to their country during the Vietnam War.
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union Veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Decoration Day started on May 30.
After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress. The day honors the more than 1.1 million Americans who died in the nation’s wars.
During the Vietnam War, 58,318 Americans gave their lives in service.
The first name listed on Panel 1, East Wall, is Dale Richard Buis. He was an Army major serving as an American adviser. Viet Cong attacked the Military Assistance Advisory Group building in Bien Hoa province July 8, 1959, killing him and Army Master Sgt. Chester Ovnand.
The last casualty was Air Force 2nd Lt. Richard Vandegeer. He was a pilot who died after his helicopter crashed on May 15, 1975, during the SS Mayaguez rescue attempt.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund maintains a searchable database of names at https://www.vvmf.org/.
According to current Department of Defense guidelines, service members are eligible for inscription on The Wall if they have died:
- within the defined combat zone of Vietnam (varies based on dates; no matter the cause)
- while on a combat/combat support mission to/from the defined combat zone of Vietnam
- within 120 days of wounds, physical injuries, or illnesses incurred or diagnosed in the defined combat zone of Vietnam
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency maintains a list of those still missing. The lists are broken down by state. The lists are at https://www.dpaa.mil/Our-Missing/Vietnam-War/Vietnam-War-POW-MIA-List/.
We honor their service.
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Graphic artist: Tass Mimikos