The purpose of the Family Contacts Committee of VHFCN is to facilitate contacts between helicopter crews and relatives of KIA's, so it's ironic that one of our first success stories didn't work out that way, but came out even better!
Gary Young, a Navy Corpsman, was killed when the Marine CH-46 he was serving as flight medic was shot down on 02Feb69. He had already served five months as a Corpsman in a Marine Corps hospital near Da Nang, and had flown on many medevac missions, but was killed the first day he was assigned to Marine Air Base Squadron 16.
Stephanie was born shortly after her Dad was killed and then she was adopted. During her college years, Stephanie took a trip to Washington and visited the Wall, without knowing why, she broke down and cried uncontrollably. Early last year she began tracing her roots, but found only a newspaper article about her Dad's death and his accompanying high school photograph.
The FCC sent out email announcements to VHFCN and Heli-vets members, but nobody remembered her Dad, probably because he was only in the unit for one day. The FCC also posted a memorial page, with Gary's picture, on The Virtual Wall ( www.VirtualWall.org ).
A vet who lives near DC went to the Nixon Archives and found a copy of the letter President Nixon wrote to Gary's parents. The FCC realized we were looking at the name and address of Stephanie's grandparents and found two people with the same name in Portland. We gave Stephanie the phone numbers and she was soon talking with her Uncle, who, just a few weeks before, had vowed to find his brother's child. The following weekend Stephanie met her grandparents and other relatives at a reception her uncle held for her. Most relatives were amazed at Steph's resemblance to her dad.
The FCC also placed a picture of Gary and a letter at the Wall on Veterans' Day. Jack Taber saw the photo and called Dusty, whom he knew was a nurse in the Da Nang area at the time. Dusty looked at Gary's photo on The Virtual Wall, recognized him, and called Stephanie on the phone. Stephanie reported "She remembered him clearly and was able to tell me a lot." And that Gary frequently talked of returning to Portland and raising his family.
The Family contacts web page ( www.VirtualWall.org/contacts ) will soon list the names of the KIA's whose family members are searching for buddies of. The chairman is Gary Thewlis firstname.lastname@example.org
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