The Department of Defense has informed family members of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Richard Bernard Fitzgibbon Jr. that his name will be added to the Department of Defense (DoD) Southeast Asia Casualty Database. Fitzgibbon died in the line of duty in Vietnam on June 8, 1956, while serving as a member of the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam. His name will also be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known to all as "The Wall."
Earlier this year, the Air Force formally requested that the director, Information Operations and Reports add Fitzgibbon's name to the database. In the past he had not been included because the DoD Instruction established Jan. 1, 1961, as the start date for the database. After an extensive high-level review of the qualifying criteria and the circumstances of loss for pre-1961 casualties, the Department decided to add his name to the database. Eight other pre-1961 casualties have been added in years past. As a result of the review, the establishment of the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam, on Nov. 1, 1955, is now formally recognized as the earliest qualifying date for addition to the database and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Fitzgibbon's casualty date of June 8, 1956, is now the earliest in the database. Fitzgibbon's son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard Fitzgibbon III was killed in action in Vietnam on Sept. 7, 1965. An extensive search of the records indicates they were the only American father and son Service members to die in Vietnam.
Department of Defense and Air Force officials will present to the Fitzgibbon family a letter formally conveying the decision in a ceremony Monday, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m. (EDT) in Stoneham, Mass.