In May we were invited to Philadelphia by Scott Brown, Director of the Veterans Advisory Commission for the City of Philadelphia, where I was honored to speak about Philadelphia veterans featured in IN HONOR AND MEMORY. I got to share the stage with my good friend Bob Erkert, one of the many contributors to the book. Thank you to the people of Philadelphia for making us feel so very welcome.
We then travelled to Washington, DC, for Memorial Day weekend, where we met General Barry McCaffrey and MG Marty Whelan, from whom I received a challenge coin. We saw a lot of old friends, and met many new people. Thank you to those who shared information and photographs for future publications.
We are now back in Florida, doing more research before we set out again this summer for events in Springfield, Illinois (VVA) and the VHPA Reunion, Washington, DC.
At the beginning of April 2015, I was approached by WBUR Boston for an interview in reference to their 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon program, which began with the death of US Air Force Technical Sergeant Richard B. Fitzgibbon, Sr. They interviewed me about the circumstances of Richard B. Fitzgibbon's death, which I had researched extensively many years ago for Chapter 3 of my 1997 book "VIETNAM MILITARY LORE - Legends, Shadows and Heroes." The Fitzgibbon Bachelor Enlisted Quarters in Saigon was named in his memory (see pages 131 and 481 of my new 2015 book IN HONOR AND MEMORY).
As we have for several years, my wife and I attended the veterans reunion in Melbourne, Florida, at the end of April. We encountered many old friends including George Norris (87), a World War II veteran, who, still as he has done for many years, escorted the Wall to Wickham Park on his motorcycle. George is one of our favorite veterans and we are always happy to see him. I encountered many good people and veterans while autographing copies of my books, including a veteran from Syracuse, New York, who was a principal in the Syracuse Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program. He remembered me and my speech when I was keynote speaker in 1996, paying tribute to Marvin M. Belt and Carl Torello, for whom facilities in Vietnam were named. We also met Harry Walling Jr. and his charming wife, Wendy. Harry lost his father, Sergeant Harry A. Walling, Sr., US Army Special Forces, in 1964 and the Walling BEQ was named in his honor (see pages 417 and 510 of IN HONOR AND MEMORY). I had searched for the Walling family without success since 1988, and when I wrote chapter 30 in "Legends, Shadows and Heroes," I used strictly military records to construct the story. Our encounter was phenomenal and we were able to exchange much information. Harry also put me in touch with other members of the Walling family.
We hope to see many of you at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, over Memorial Day.
Master Sergeant Ray Bows, US Army (ret.) spent twenty years on active duty including overseas assignments in Korea, France, Vietnam, Germany, and Belgium, with TDY to Crete and Italy.