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NAMES ADDED TO VIETNAM MEMORIAL


Brother of Texas KIA To Witness Name Additions; Event Set For Thursday, May 3 At 10 a.m.
***EDITOR'S NOTE: (Rain Date: Friday, May 4 at 10 a.m.)***

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2, 2001 - The names of six American service members will be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Thursday, May, 3, 2001 at 10 a.m., increasing the number of names on the black granite Wall to 58,226, announced Jan C. Scruggs, president and founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Texan Michael Smith will be present to witness the adding of his brother's name, the late Army Specialist Fifth Class Billy M. Smith, to the Memorial. SP5 Smith, of Commerce, Texas, was seriously wounded in the head on November 8, 1963, alongside Army Specialist First Class William J. Everhart, who died instantly. Smith was presumed dead, but he was later evacuated and lived for more than 30 years. He ultimately died in October 1995, after which time, the Department of Defense determined that his death was directly attributable to the wounds received in Vietnam. His name will be added to Panel 1East, Line 44 -10 rows below that of his comrade SFC Everhart.

Other names being added to The Wall are:

* Army Sgt. Wayne E. Benge, Sheffield Lake, Ohio, casualty date of
September 23, 1966, Panel 11East, Line 7

*Navy Lt.j.g. Edward P. Cooper, Edinburg, Texas, casualty date of
December 5, 1971, Panel 4West, Line 26

* Army First Lt. Thomas C. Finn, Pittsburgh, Penn., casualty date of
November 24, 1970, Panel 6West, Line 89

* Army SP4 Benjamin R. Montano, Tucson, Ariz., casualty date of May
23, 1969, Panel 24West, Line 94

* Army Pvt. Chester R. Odom III, Winston-Salem, N.C., casualty date
of March 27, 1971, Panel 4West, Line 88

In addition to six name additions, the status of 28 servicemen will be changed on The Wall from missing in action. Wayne Jefferson, brother of Air Force Maj. James Milton Jefferson of San Diego, Calif., will be present. Maj. Jefferson was involved in an air crash on May 12, 1967, and had been listed as missing in action. His name is located on Panel 19East, Line 96. Preceding each name on the Memorial is a symbol designating status. The diamond symbol denotes that the service member's death was confirmed; the cross symbol denotes the person remains missing in action. When a service member's remains are returned or accounted for, the diamond symbol is superimposed over the cross.

Expert stone workers from Denver-based Great Panes Glassworks, Inc., are flown to Washington, D.C. to perform the process of adding names to the black granite panels and changing the status designations of existing names from missing in action to killed in action. The highly technical procedure requires meticulous work matching the stroke and depth of the surrounding names to within one thousandth of an inch, said Scruggs, the Vietnam veteran who conceived the idea to build the Memorial. Dedicated on November 13, 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built to honor all the men and women who served with the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. It has become known as an international symbol of healing that has helped bring together those who stood on different sides during one of the most divisive periods in American history. Nearly 20 years later, The Wall continues to be the most visited memorial in the nation's capital. More than 4.4 million people visit the Memorial annually and experience its healing legacy.

The Department of Defense makes all decisions about persons who fit the established criteria to be included on the Memorial. The Memorial Fund works with the National Park Service to ensure the long-term preservation and maintenance of The Wall.

Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is the non-profit organization authorized by Congress to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Today, it has developed a series of outreach programs dedicated to preserving the legacy of The Wall and to educate and to promote healing from the effects of the Vietnam War.
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