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Gunnery Sergeant’s Name to be Added to Vietnam Veterans Memorial

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2009 – The name of an American serviceman who died as a result of wounds suffered in combat in the Vietnam War will be inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial next week, the founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund announced.

Jan C. Scruggs said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Enrique Valdez's name will be added to Panel 17W, Row 51 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial May 5 at 9 a.m. Valdez’s four children are expected to be on hand to watch their father’s name being added to The Wall.

“We will add Gunnery Sergeant Valdez’s name as close as possible to his date of casualty, so he can remain in the company of those he served with,” Scruggs said.

Valdez was a native of Santa Fe, N.M., who enlisted in the Marine Corps in November 1955. He served for 14 years, with several tours of duty in Vietnam. On his last tour, beginning in March 1969, he was serving with the 1st Marine Division’s B Company, 1st Battalion. He was wounded Aug. 26, 1969, when his spinal cord was severed by shrapnel. The wound left him quadriplegic, and when Valdez succumbed to pneumonia on Feb. 4, 1994, it Marine Corps officials determined his death to be directly attributable to the wounds he suffered in Vietnam.

In addition to the addition of Valdez’s name to The Wall, the designations of five others will be changed, Scruggs said. “Designation” refers to the symbol that has been inscribed beside every name on The Wall. A diamond denotes confirmed death, and a cross represents missing in action. When a servicemember’s remains are returned or accounted for, the diamond is superimposed over the cross.

This year, symbols will be changed for Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ralph C. Bisz of Miami; Air Force Senior Master Sgt. James K. Caniford of Frederick, Md.; Air Force Maj. John L. McElroy of Schenectady, N.Y.; Air Force Maj. Barclay B. Young of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Air Force Col. David H. Zook Jr. of West Liberty, Ohio.

Next week’s change will bring the total number of names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to 58,261 men and women who were killed or remain missing in action, Scruggs said.

The new name will become “official” when it is read aloud during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the memorial May 25 at 1 p.m.

The Defense Department sets the criteria for and makes decisions about whose names are eligible for inscription on The Wall. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund pays for the name additions and status changes, and works with the National Park Service to ensure the memorial’s long-term preservation and maintenance.

Dedicated on Nov. 13, 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built to honor all who served with the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam War. It has become known as an international symbol of healing and is one of the most-visited memorials on the National Mall.

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

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