Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Soldiers Misspell Vietnam Wall

Soldiers Misspell Vietnam Wall

MILITARY: Vets want misspelled name corrected on Vietnam Wall

Sgt. Stephen Hiett Phillips of Springfield, Mo., was 23 and about to become a father when he died, two days after arriving in Vietnam in July 1965.

His name, like thousands of others, is carved in stone on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Except that his first name is misspelled.

On the wall, it reads "SHEPHEN".

The error apparently was made in the Combat Area Casualties Current File that is computerized and maintained by the National Archives, reports the News-Leader, Phillips' hometown newspaper.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund referred to those records when it compiled the list of about 58,000 deaths inscribed on the wall, which was built in 1982 with more than $8 million in private donations.

Two soldiers from Phillips' regiment are trying to get it fixed, but have come away frustrated after bouts with a variety of federal agencies and non-profits, the News-Leader reports.

"Most the time, I do not even get the courtesy of a return call or message," says Pete Neumann, who first spotted the error. "In other cases, I am being told 'not responsible, not our job.' "

Larry Thompson says he wasn't aware that Phillips' first name was misspelled until Neumann contacted him.

"I've been to the Wall four times. ... I guess I just overlooked it, kind of being teary-eyed," he says.

The News-Leader says a call to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund on Friday was not returned. Attempts to obtain clarification from federal agencies, including the National Archives and National Park Service, also were unsuccessful last week, between the holidays, the newspaper says.

While both soldiers concede that it might not be physically possible to correct the name in granite on the wall, they are hoping it can be changed on "The Virtual Wall," an online listing run by a non-profit that is an official partner in the Veterans History project of the Library of Congress. Vietnam Wall Misspelled Name

Phillips is buried at the Springfield National Cemetery. His name on the headstone is spelled correctly. soldiers misspell vietnam wall, stephen phillips shephen, vietnam veterans memorial wall

Thompson and Neumann have been unable to track down Phillips' family, but the newspaper notes that one entry on an online list of Vietnam casualties appears to have been left by the son born only weeks after Phillips died.

It reads:

Since I was born 43 days after you were taken, we never got the chance to see each other. Even though 'they' misspelled your name wrong on THE WALL (should be Stephen), I know who you are and I could not be more proud of the fact that I am your son.

"You have 3 beautiful grandchildren and another one on the way. I promise that they too will know who their grandfather is and of the sacrifices that you gave ... Your Loving Son, Steve.