Thursday, September 15, 2016

Remembering Vietnam and Remembering Wallace A. Abbott

Last week, I attended my local DAR meeting and the guest speaker was retired Colonel and Vietnam veteran, Albert Nahas. Colonel Nahas has written a photo documentary book, Warriors Remembered, highlighting the images and stories behind 100 Vietnam memorials in the United States.

Part of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Photo taken by me, 2010

Several of those memorials include special images like a face without features or a dog tag without a name. Those images are to memorialize those who weren't killed during the war, but who died as a result of the war. For example, some died later from the affects of Agent Orange while others too many others committed suicide. As he emotionally shared photos and stories of the memorials with us, I had to wipe away my tears.

2010 photo by me of my daughter pointing to the name of Gary R Holland.

When my daughter and I visited Washington, D.C. in 2010, we visited the wall memorial and looked for two individuals. One of them was Gary R. Holland who was a classmate of my mother-in-law's. The other was Wallace A. Abbott, a first cousin of my mother's. 

There were quite a few of these "posters" at the base of the memorial. They say that
these particular individuals died "40 years ago this weekend." There is also a portion of
a speech by President Ronald Reagan which starts " our hearts, you will always be young..."
The ages of each soldier at the time of his death are also given: these four young men 
were 20, 21, 24, and 26.

Wallace Adrion Abbott (21 Dec 1946-4 Nov 1966) was the son of Marvin Abbott (1905-1981) and Bernie Dickson (1905-1972), my grandmother's sister. According to his Find A Grave memorial, Wallace was attached to the "1st Cavalry Division, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, Company C" in the light weapons infantry. His tour start date was October 7th, 1966, and he died less than a month later of non-combat related drowning in South Vietnam.

How sad to have died so far away from home.

How sad to have drowned.

How sad to have been on active duty for only four weeks.

How sad to have never seen a 20th birthday.

November 4th of this year will mark 50 years since
Wallace A. Abbott died in Vietnam.
I will close with more of the 1988 Veteran Day's speech that was given by President Ronald Reagan's and posted on the small posters at the memorial: our hearts, you will always be young, full of the love that is youth, love of life, love of joy, love of country... you fought for your country and for its safety and for the freedom of others with strength and courage."

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