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Alexandria’s Fallen Heroes Honored with New Vietnam War Plaque

Alexandria, VA —Today the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 609 and American Legion Post 24, in partnership with the Office of Historic Alexandria, and the Veterans Service Organization paid a special Memorial Day tribute to Alexandrians who lost their lives in the Vietnam War by adding a plaque to honor Alexandria’s fallen soldier lost in the Vietnam War. The Veterans Service Organization (VSO), based in Alexandria, began a fundraising campaign last December to buy and place more plaques at the Alexandria War Memorial. In just five months, the VSO has received $15,000, the target amount and enough to cover the cost of two plaques.

A crowd gathers on a green lawn and listens to aa woman at a podium.
Gretchen Bulova started the dedication of the new Vietnam War soldiers who were killed during the Vietnam War who were from Alexandria, Virginia.(Photo Eliza Nela)

The bronze plaque set in a flat ground stone honors 68 young men from Alexandria killed during the Vietnam War and was placed and dedicated today at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial, adjacent to Union Station at 10 Callahan Drive. The concrete, limestone and granite memorial was erected on the lawn in front of the station in 1940. According the the City’s website, long-time residents may remember a World War I Renault tank installed on a concrete pad adjacent to the memorial. According to Amtrak officials, the tank was removed to the Nitro Memorial Museum in Nitro, West Virginia in the early 1980s and restored to running condition.

Man at odium talks to crowd with the Alexandria Masonic Memorial in the background.
Mayor Justin Wilson addressing the guests at the City’s 2024 Memorial Day program. (Photo : Eliza Nela)

During the formal program this morning, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson remarked, “It struck me … how long overdue this commemoration is. We have to continue the work and get the remaining plaques here for all those Alexandrians who have given their life in defense of our country.”

Imagining what it was like 84 years ago for the 68 young hometown boys lost during Vietnam, Wilson added, “These were young men. From 18 years of age to 38 years old. Just ordinary people who went and did extraordinary things.

CIty officials gathered around he new Vietnam Way plaque
L: R: Gerald Krueger, Gretchen Bulova, Alexandria City Council members Sarah Bagley, Alyia Gaskins, Kirk McPike, John Chapman, Vice Mayor Amy Jackson, Sheriff Sean Casey, Mayor Justin Wilson, and Gretchen Bulova. (Photo; Eliza Nela)

Gerald Krueger commander, VFW Post 609 provided additional detail telling the crowd, “I did a substantial amount of research myself looking up information on these 68 men.” 45 of them were members of the U.S. Army; 15 were U.S. Marines; five were U.S. Air Force; and three were U.S. Navy.  25 of them were commissioned officers, two were Army warrant officers, and the others were various ranks of enlisted service in the three military services. The highest ranking among them was an Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Whitbeck. “Each person has a unique story, some of them very accomplished, really heroic acts, but all were heroes to us,” he reflected.

Man in a coat and tie wearing a veteran's hat
Henry Dorton. He was part of the American Legion for about 14 years. Served for 30 years, as a reservist as well as active duty. Dorton was one of the many veterans attending the Memorial Day ceremony. He joined the military just after the Vietnam War and served in the Gulf War. Photo: Eliza Nela

Vietnam veterans endured tremendous sacrifices, facing harsh combat conditions, intense jungle warfare, and the constant threat of injury or death. Upon returning home, many encountered significant difficulties, including widespread societal disapproval and a lack of support, which compounded the physical and emotional scars of war. This meant difficulties in readjusting to civilian life, and a prolonged fight for recognition. Perhaps only one of the many reasons commemoration ceremonies such as this are particularly important.

people standing and talking and a few staring down at a bronze plaque set in stone
People, including 22-year Army veteran and candidate for U.S. Senate, Eddie Garcia (center), gathered around the newly dedicated Vietnam War Memorial plaque in Alexandria, Virginia which prominently displays the names of the 68 young men killed in action who called Alexandria their home. (Photo: Eliza Nela)

Vice Mayor Amy Jackson told Zebra Press, “This should have been done a long time ago. These brave men fought and sacrificed a lot for our country.”

The names of the 68 soldiers Alexandria Virginia los during Vietnam War
The name of each of the 68 soldiers from ALexandria, Virginia, who were killed in the Vietnam War are memorialized in a bronze plaque set in stone at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial in Alexandria. Dedicated on Memorial Day, May 27, 2024. (Photo: Jerry Krueger)

MORE: Former President Obama Helps Place 4200 Flags in Alexandria National Cemetery

 

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