Vietnam Memorial Wall comes to Sonoma
THE VIETNAM MEMORIAL WALL had an escort of more than 100 motorcycles, fire trucks, police cars while a Huey helicopter hovered overhead.
Sonoma Valley’s Veterans Day observation began with a flurry of activity on Wednesday as the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall made its way to Sonoma surrounded by a full motorcade of police cars, fire trucks and more than 100 motorcycles, while a 25th Infantry Division Huey helicopter hovered overhead.
The wall, an 80 percent scale replica of the official memorial in Washington D.C., will be open to the public 24 hours a day through Sunday at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building, 126 First St. W.
There will also be a large variety of displays on everything from 9/11 to prisoners of war to military vehicles. In addition, there will be ceremonies daily, each with its own area of focus.
Today, Friday, the ceremony recognizes first responders and begins at 1 p.m. Tomorrow, Saturday, honors the veterans of Vietnam, with speeches beginning at noon. Saturday will also include a candlelight vigil beginning at 6 p.m. On Sunday, women in the military take the spotlight with a ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. Expect military flyovers, posting of the colors and other patriotic offerings all weekend.
All events are being organized by Sonoma’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1943. See a full schedule and learn more at vfwpost1943.org.
According to the VFW, the names of six Sonoma Valley residents appear on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. They are:
• Army PFC John Newton Brewer, Sonoma
Born Aug. 16, 1947, John Brewer was a member of Sonoma Valley High School’s class of 1965. He had only been in Vietnam a month, serving with the 25th Infantry Division, when he perished on Jan. 11, 1968, after injuries sustained on a mission in Binh Duong, Vietnam. He was 20. He is buried at St. Francis Solano cemetery in Sonoma. For his service, he was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, posthumously.
• Army PFC Dean Harry Burns, Sonoma
Dean Burns was born Sept. 10, 1947, in Iowa but moved to Sonoma with his family in 1957. He graduated from Sonoma Valley High School with the class of 1966. He enlisted in 1967 and was trained as a medic. He was serving with the 35th Infantry Regiment when he was killed on March 31, 1968 by enemy forces seeking medical supplies in the Kontum Province, Vietnam. He was 20. He was honored after his death with the Combat Medical Badge, a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
• Army SP4 Theodore Glen Feland, Sonoma
Theodore “Ted” Feland was the first California casualty in Vietnam. He was born Aug. 14, 1934 and attended Sonoma Valley High School, where he was a baseball pitcher, played the Sousaphone in the band and drew cartoons for the newspaper. He was sent to Vietnam in October 1960, as a sergeant with the Military Assistance and Advisory Group, a small cadre of serviceman in civilian clothes who were “loaned” to the Diem government by the Eisenhower administration. He later served as one of President John F. Kennedy’s 750 military advisors on Vietnam. He died April 20, 1961, of non-hostile causes in the Gia Dinh Province in Vietnam. He was 26.
• Navy Lt. David Allen Kardell, Sonoma
David Kardell was engaged to be married when he was sent to Vietnam in December 1964. He was born June 12, 1939 and earned his wings as a Naval pilot in 1961. He served as a Navy jet fighter pilot attached to the USS Coral Sea, an aircraft carrier. He was active in the military for six years after enlisting in 1959. He died at the age of 23 when his F-8 Crusader crashed near the town of Cu Duc on Mother’s Day, May 9, 1965. In his last letter to his parents, dated April 23, 1965, he wrote,“Boy, do I want to get home.”
• Air Force Capt. Reginald Victor Maisey Jr., Sonoma
Reginald Maisey was born into an Air Force family on Nov. 17, 1934. In high school, he played football and was known to be a ladies man. He followed his father’s footsteps by joining the Air Force, where he served as captain and was in charge of security at the Bien Hoa Air Base. The base was attacked on Jan. 31, 1968, during the Tet offensive, when Maisey was killed by mortar fire. He was 34. He earned the Air Force Cross, was recommended for a Medal of Honor and buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
• Navy Lt. Richard Andrew Renning, Glen Ellen
Richard Renning was born Nov. 27, 1929, in Washington state, Renning was raised in Glen Ellen and enlisted in the Navy in 1946 when he was just 17. After receiving his commission in 1960, he became a ground aircraft maintenance officer. In August 1968, he was sent to Vietnam to serve on the aircraft carrier Hancock. He died in Vietnam on Jan. 1, 1969, following a fatal heart attack, and was buried in San Diego.