Thanks to Machine Gun Kelley, on May 27, 1996, and to Joseph Montoya of VVA Chapter 526 and of VFW, my brother Michael, my daughter, Tammi, and I were able to witness for ourselves, the Memorial Day "In Memory Ceremony," in Washington, D.C.!! Our father was finally being "recognized" by the In Memory Program, a branch of The Friends of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial (FVVM- separate from the VVMF- Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund). The purpose of this ceremony was "to remember those whose names do not appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but who have lost their lives as a direct result of their service in Vietnam."  


My daughter, Tammi, on the front left; my brother, Michael, in the back left; Ira Hamburg, top center and me on the right.

This photo was also taken right after the In Memory Ceremony, on 5-27-96, right next to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial WALL. Mark Johnston is the surviving son of Sgt. James W. Johnston who was aboard our flight. He also attended the ceremony along with his sister.


Marcy Meyer, In Memory Coordinator and I

This photo was also taken right after the In Memory Ceremony, on 5-27-96, right next to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial WALL. Marcy Meyer allowed me to give a 4-minute speech on behalf of my father and the other 106.

The experience was heightened by several things. Not only were we able to meet Mark Johnston and his sister at the ceremony, but Robert Dubeck (co-founder of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial WALL) had sat in front of me. We all had appreciated, and were also thankful, that the experience will be forever engraved in our minds due to the fact that the Vietnam Veteran's of America (VVA), Chapter 526 of Culver City, California, had helped us obtain two of our tickets, in an effort to ensure that we would all be able to attend the ceremony together. I had presented our story to the VVA Chapter 526 only a couple of weeks before, as if driven by that familiar, and trusting, spiritual inner direction. Their names are: Gene Partyka, President; John Wykel, Bob Nobel, Bill McTaggartt, Joe Adamski and Joseph Montoya. These men have made a lasting impression, and allowed our voices to be heard in Washington, D.C. Many thanks go out to them for their help, and for allowing my dream to become a reality.  

Our father's name was included in a 3-ring spiral notebook, which at that time, was called the In Memory Albumn. We were excited that we were able to participate in the experience of having our father's name recognized, and obtain a "replica" (piece of paper) of the Certificate with my father's name printed on it. The paper said "died" on it's inscription. It left my heart burning to eventually correct the error. As far as I was concerned my father wasn't "dead!" since the CAB's Accident Report stated that they were "unable to state with any degree of certainty, the exact fate of N6921C."  

During the ceremony the names of those who were being recognized that day were read aloud by a family member, when possible. It was a very moving and emotional experience to hear every name being read aloud. It felt as if the air itself gave way to silence, in respect, of the breaths that uttered each name. Since I had given the speech, I had asked my brother, Michael, to say our father's name aloud. He choked up immediately, as if all the years of his pain were in his throat; and, as if for the first time since our father left on this mission, he was coming face to face with his father again.  

Prior to this ceremony, in January 1996, I had called Rosie to invite her and my mother to come and be a part of the experience. That is when we had learned of our mother's passing only a few days earlier. Our mother had died, as many others have, still believing that their loved one was still alive .  

I was informed in December 1998 that the In Memory program didn't exist any longer, and neither did the In Memory Album. However, on 5-30-00 I received a letter from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund stating that our father's name was read aloud at the In Memory ceremony that was held last April 2000. It appears now that the In Memory Album is now referred to as the "In Memory Honor Roll." "All 723 of these brave men and women make up the In Memory Honor Roll. Beginning this summer, the Honor Roll -- an 81-page, spiral-bound, black and white memory book -- will be available for viewing at the information kiosk of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC and at the The Wall That Heals, the Memorial Fund's traveling memorial and museum." "The In Memory Honor Roll will be updated each year as new honorees are added to this record of our nation's heroes."  

Now, years later, I've realized that the In Memory ceremony that we had attended was intended to quiet our grief and was only a temporary solution. My conclusion was derived from the fact that all aboard this flight are still "omitted" from being included on the WALL as was determined from the criteria as set forth by the Department of Defense, and in combination of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund's criteria. However frustrating it has been through the years, I am relieved to know that our father's name will continue to be recognized and read aloud in future ceremonies of the In Memory program.