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Ceremony marks additions, status changes on Vietnam Wall

Elizabeth Swiriduk of Tamworth, N.H. is overcome with emotion as she sees the name of her father, Walter H. Mauldin, on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington for the first time on May 11, 2014. Master Sgt. Mauldin, who died in 1968, is one of 13 Vietnam War casualties whose names were added to the wall this year. Eight others had their status changed from missing to deceased, and the addition of a 14th name was delayed until 2015 because of an error.

WASHINGTON — When Henry John Drozdowski was honored Sunday as one of 13 casualties of the Vietnam War whose names were recently added to the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, there were plenty of relatives on hand for the historic occasion.

"The whole family is here," his widow, Sophia, said before a ceremony on a hill just above the memorial. "We have 42 people. He was a wonderful, wonderful man, a strong man. He was such an inspiration to people, and touched so many lives, and they all just loved him."

Drozdowski died at age 63 in 2011 from the long-term effects of wounds he suffered during Operation Cedar Falls in 1967.

Another name added in 2014 was that of Walter Hugh Mauldin, who died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in May 1968. His daughter, Elizabeth Swiriduk, said that when she heard that her father was to be honored, "a whisper could've blown me over. I was just floored. I just didn't know what to do.

"Knowing that his name is on the wall, he's more than a fallen hero, he's my daddy," she said. "And he's my hero for the rest of my life. And that's why I went into the United States Navy: To make my daddy proud."

Also present were relatives of Thomas Charles Littles, who died in June, 1971.

"I guess it would be the pride of my mother, to know that this is being done and when it's being done ... on Mother's Day," said his brother, Douglas Littles, president of Reid State College in Alabama. "She'd be proud of the fact that it's been accomplished.

"I was extremely excited" to hear that Thomas Littles' name was to be added, he said. "As were all my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, because often they come to Washington and say, 'why isn't Uncle Tom's name on the wall?' So we were all excited about it, and pleased that it eventually happened."

Eight other people listed on the wall had their status changed from missing in action to deceased this year.

There are now 58,300 names of those killed or missing in action on the wall.

Names added in 2014

  • Staff Sgt. Jerry Leon Antrich, U.S. Army
  • Sgt. 1st Class Frederick Joseph Baum, U.S. Army
  • Pfc. Henry John Drozdowski, Jr., U.S. Army
  • Spc. 5 Michael Noel Faherty, U.S. Army
  • Pfc. Gregory Jackson Franklin, U.S. Army
  • Spc. 4 William Arthur Gabrielsen, U.S. Army
  • Pfc. Ronald Hall, U.S. Army
  • Spc. 4 Robert Kroptavich, U.S. Army
  • Spc. 4 Thomas Charles Littles, U.S. Army
  • Pfc. Paul Luther Loidolt, U.S. Army
  • Master Sgt. Walter Hugh Mauldin, U.S. Army
  • Spc. 4 Alan Leslie Seamans, U.S. Army
  • Pfc. Danny Joe Wilson, U.S. Army

Honored at Sunday's ceremony, but to be engraved in 2015:

  • Machinist's Mate Third Class Chester Staten, U.S. Navy

Status changes

  • Maj. Howard Vincent Andre, Jr.; USAF; Memphis, Tenn.; Panel 21W, Row 80
  • Spc. 5 John Lawrence Burgess; USA; Kingsley, Mich.; Panel 9W, Row 104
  • Col. Thomas Wayne Dugan; USAF; Reading, Pa.; Panel 36W, Row 14
  • Maj. Louis Fulda Guillermin; USAF; of West Chester, Pa.; Panel 53E, Row 14
  • Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Barry Judd; USN; Cleveland, Ohio; Panel 22E, Row 88
  • Lt. Col. Robert Edward Pietsch; USAF; Cleveland, Ohio; Panel 53E, Row 21
  • Maj. James Elmo Sizemore, USAF; San Diego, Calif.; Panel 21W, Row 86
  • Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods; USA; Clarksville, Tenn.; Panel 1E, Row 68

gromelski.joe@stripes.com
 

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