The Department of Defense announced today that it has informed family members of U.S. Air Force Captain E. Alan Brudno that his name will be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. His name will be inscribed on the Memorial Wall and recognized during the Memorial Day ceremony at The Wall.
On Oct. 18, 1965, while flying a combat mission over North Vietnam, Brudno was forced to eject from his aircraft. He was held as a prisoner of war for seven and a half years during the war period. Brudno was repatriated in February 1973. He died of his wounds when he took his life, on June 3, 1973, less than four months later.
In a March 31 letter to the Department of the Interior, the Director for Administration and Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Raymond F. DuBois, conveyed the decision of the Defense Department to accept the recommendation of the Air Force to add Brudnos name to the Memorial Wall. The Brudno case, while highly unusual because it involves the suicide of a repatriated Vietnam prisoner of war, falls squarely within the existing, longstanding defined criterion for Wall inclusion: "Died as a result of wounds sustained in the combat zone." For seven and a half years Brudno endured long-term, severe physical and psychological abuse and torture-related wounds inflicted by the enemy in the defined combat zone - and from the devastating effects of these wounds he succumbed within a short time after his release from captivity.
While this case stands on the particular merits flowing from its unique circumstances, the decision must not be misunderstood to include, broadly, cases involving more attenuated circumstances that may have led to post-war suicides, or those post-war deaths more distantly based on cases of war-related psychological trauma.