|Published:||Aug 26, 2013 3:25 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Aug 26, 2013 3:38 PM EDT|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Nearly five decades after the Vietnam War, we're still learning more about the service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thanks to a group of local genealogists, names on a granite wall are coming to life.
Wink News spoke with those dedicated to preserving their memories and letting loved ones know they are not forgotten.
76 names are etched into the wall near McGregor Boulevard, honoring the men who served in the Vietnam War but never made it home.
"It touches your heart, it really does," said genealogist Lorie Augustyn.
A local group of volunteer genealogists have been conducting research, trying to locate their families and find out what their lives were like before entering the military.
"The Vietnam Veterans Post out here in Cape Coral is having a tribute to the gold star families in Vietnam, they did not have a lot of information on a lot of there vets," said Augustyn.
One of the names listed is Cpl. James D. Rader, a 22-year old Marine. Rader and his family lived in Cape Coral when he enlisted. He served in South Vietnam as a rifleman and was killed December 6, 1967.
"I started digging on the Internet, looking for relatives, friends, anything and stumbled upon a website, the Virtual Wall of Faces," she said.
After two years, countless inquiries and emails, Augustyn and her fellow researches made contact with those who knew him best.
"We were able to find his brother in Key West. we were able to find his commanding officer in Texas, and we were able to find a fellow colleague of his that was next to him when he was killed.
They will re-dedicate the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 108 that bares his name.
"I think for many veterans, we all make the pledge, that we will never forget our comrades, period," said Vietnam Veteran, Spc. Peter Palkowski.
The re-dedication is scheduled for Thursday, September 12, 7:00 p.m. at the Elks Lodge 2596 in Cape Coral.