Decades After Vietnam, Marine Joins Memorial

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Earlier this month, Priscilla Mason watched as her late husband's name was carved into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Marine Lance Cpl. Raymond Mason is one of four names added this year. They are made official Monday during a ceremony at the memorial.


And you can see something else at our Web site, engravers adding new names to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. These are servicemen who were wounded badly in Vietnam but died from those wounds many years later. Today, Memorial Day, we remember one of them.

He was a Marine, Lance Corporal Raymond C. Mason.

PRISCILLA MASON: And he was shot February 28, 1968, which was at the height of the Tet Offensive.

MONTAGNE: Priscilla Mason is Raymond's widow. She was in Washington earlier this month.

MASON: There was a sniper, evidently, across the river, on the opposite side of the bank where he was. The bullet grazed his spinal cord and ripped off the bottom part of his left ear on the way out, and he became paralyzed as a result of that bullet wound. And the way I like to look at it, it took 38 years for that bullet to kill him.

MONTAGNE: Raymond Mason died on Memorial Day, two years ago, an appropriate date, Priscilla says, for a Marine. She petitioned the Defense Department to have him included in the official tally of war dead.

MASON: We had to have his death certificate amended to read that he did die as a result of - I think they called it a remote gunshot wound.

MONTAGNE: Priscilla Mason was on hand to see her late husband's name carved into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A stone engraver finished his work, then she knelt down, and with a black crayon and a white piece of paper, she made a rubbing of the memorial's newest name.

MASON: He's buried in Rhode Island, in Barrington, next to his parents. I am able to go see him just about every day, but I've decided that after today, he's going to be here and not there.

MONTAGNE: Priscilla Mason, earlier this month at the Vietnam Veterans memorial. Her husband, Raymond, is now one of the 58,260 names of U.S. men and women inscribed on the wall.


MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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At Vietnam Memorial, Growing List Honors Fallen

Nearly 30 years after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was erected, names are still being added. Jim Wildman/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jim Wildman/NPR

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened in 1982, but it remains unfinished.

Though Maya Lin's granite design included almost 58,000 names of U.S. men and women who were killed or missing in the Vietnam War, space was left open for new names to be added. More than 300 names have been added over the years.

Many who were wounded in the conflict died outside the war zone or died years later. That's what happened to Dennis O. Hargrove of Burns, Tenn. Multiple gunshot wounds he suffered in 1969 left him paralyzed for the rest of his life. He died in 1987, and his sister petitioned the Defense Department to include his name in the official tally of war dead.

Hargrove's name is one of four added to the memorial this year. They were carved in earlier this month by two stone engravers using a special sandblaster. Visitors can pick out the additions by counting six names on a line — one more than the original design.

The newest names are made official during Memorial Day ceremonies.



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