View Full Version : VietNam memorial, "In Memory" list

04-22-03, 10:47 AM

'Other' Vietnam Memorial Honors Veterans Who Died Years After Combat

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

WASHINGTON Doctors first diagnosed David Carr Montgomery with skin cancer. A year later, he got non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; a year after that, leukemia.

Ultimately, Montgomery died of pneumonia, a complication of the cancers, on Oct. 13, 1991, decades after serving in Vietnam.

Montgomery was honored Monday as a Vietnam war casualty during a ceremony that also paid tribute to nearly 400 other Vietnam veterans who died from Agent Orange-related illness, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments related to their service.

Their names were added to the "In Memory" list kept inside the park rangers' kiosk near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Because these veterans died years after and thousands of miles away from Vietnam and not from combat-related wounds, their names cannot appear on the black granite wall honoring the war's official dead.

"These people need to be listed some place," said Montgomery's widow, Carolyn Montgomery, who traveled to the ceremony from Rockford, Ill.

"I'm just glad somebody is recognizing this formally, publicly," said her brother-in-law and husband's brother, Floyd Montgomery, of Lancaster, Pa. "It's too bad that the government isn't doing this themselves. They should be paying for this tribute."

The fifth annual "In Memory" ceremony drew more than a thousand relatives and friends.

As relatives read aloud the names of the veterans, some added the rank of their loved ones. Others, the role they played in their lives -- best friend, father, soul mate. Several included a brief message: We miss you. Semper fi. We will never forget.

"For the families, this really represents psychological closure," said Jan Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which sponsored the event. "This is a ceremony in which they are with people who experienced the same trauma of losing somebody before their time. It gives them a group setting, a spiritual atmosphere for them to come to grips with their tragedy."

The American Battle Monuments Commission is finishing plans for a granite marker to be installed near the memorial wall as early as this year honoring, without naming, those who served in Vietnam and "later died as a result of their service."

Many on the "In Memory" list died from cancers the government presumes are related to Agent Orange, a herbicide used to clear jungle growth that provided cover for the enemy. Others were victims of post-traumatic stress disorder, through suicide, drug abuse or alcoholism.

There also are civilians and soldiers who died during the war but failed to meet Defense Department criteria as war casualties. Reflecting those rules, the wall of 58,229 names is reserved for service members who died of wounds sustained in the combat zone or in direct support of combat.

Connie Faour Carroll said she feels it's appropriate for her father's name to be listed separately from those killed in battle. Carroll's dad was a career Army officer who died from Agent Orange-related cancer on March 25, 1994.

"My father had a wide circle of friends, so his sacrifice didn't go unnoticed," said Carroll, who brought her three children from Charlotte, N.C., to the ceremony. She also was joined by her mother, aunts and cousins. "Now, to have him recognized nationally, is wonderful."