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Reading of the Names at Vietnam Veterans Memorial includes SV teacher Daniel Fitzgerald
As part of the 35th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund hosted the Reading of the Names, November 7-10, 2017.  Volunteers read the names of the 58,318 service members inscribed on The Wall as part of the 35th Anniversary activities. Each volunteer reader was given one page containing 30 names of America's Vietnam War fallen to read. The Reading of the Names took place at The Wall for 65 hours over a four-day period beginning with an opening ceremony on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 3:45 p.m. Volunteers read names for approximately eight hours from 4 p.m. on November 7 to 12 a.m. on November 8.  Participants then read the names for 19 hours daily from 5 a.m. until 12 a.m. on November 8, 9, and 10.
 
The VVWF's website indicates a record number of requests came in from people wanting to volunteer to participate in the Reading of the Names. One of those requests came from Susquehanna Valley's own Daniel Fitzgerald (left), who was among those chosen to read. 
 
Here is Mr. Fitzgerald's account:
I actually saw the call for volunteers online.  It was put out by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  Every five years they read all the names that are on the wall.  This year was the 35th anniversary of the wall.  I filled out an application last spring and on September 1st I received notification that I would be reading names on Nov 10th at 7:44 AM. I wanted to do something more than just show up, so I researched and posted info on each of the 30 service members that had lost their life in Vietnam.  So, for 30 days I posted pictures, as much info as I could find about the details of their service and how they died.  It was a very fulfilling experience.
 
My own service took place from 85-93, I had two MOS (military occupational specialty) during my time.  I was a combat engineer, and work as a paralegal for the Staff Judge Advocate.
 
I think my experience in Washington D.C., was best explained by the narrative I posted on Facebook:

I took a few days to think about my experience in Washington D.C. It was amazing and emotional. Heather and I arrived on Thursday, checked in to a hotel just a couple of blocks away from the Vietnam Memorial. I was scheduled to read my names at 7:44 the next morning. My wife and I reported to the sign in tent around 6:40 and then went to the Lincoln Memorial, it was a cold beautiful day. The vivid colors of the sunrise over the Washington Monument made it even better. We walked around and at 7:20 lined up with the other readers and waited to be called. Then something wonderful happened. Mac McCarty, the platoon leader of Jimmy Wandro, one of the men I had researched and was reading, found me and introduced himself. Mac shared what had happened on "That Night,"and has given me permission to post what he had told me previously on FB.

Dan: He was one of my Marines, the last one I failed to bring home. He was funny, dedicated, and a true hero. Silver Star (posthumous). I remember him most as the man in the photo with that big infectious grin. When his squad leader went temporarily missing on what we in C/1/5 recall as "That Night", Wandro took the initiative and moved to clear some NVA who had gotten into our lines in an abandoned trench and were threatening our 60mm mortar section. He killed at least three of them before he was killed. (It was a bad night; in addition to Wandro's SS; my other squad leader and a Marine from 1st Platoon each earned a Navy Cross for separate acts of heroism. between 1st Platoon and my 3d Platoon, we were hit by an estimated 450-600 NVA.) Wandro never lost his cool and responded in the finest traditions of the Corps. When you read his name, please (silently) tell him that I am so sorry. Thanks, Mate. Mac
 
It was so very nice of Mac to share and to reach out to me. It just made the occasion more special and heartfelt. Mac clearly cared about his men, and deeply feels the loss of all to this day. I can honestly say from meeting Mac that a lot more Marines survived because of his leadership, and those who did not survive, like Jimmy Wandro, who fought and died, did so with courage and valor.
 
I have visited The Wall on many occasions and it is a somber place. On this day there were tears, but also laughter, so many old friends once again united and sharing the experience that they had as young men. I want to thank everyone who commented and read the bio's I have posted, along with wishing me well, and saying some incredibly nice things. (more than I deserved..lol) I think that my next station in life will be to work in some capacity with veterans and thank all for their service.
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Susquehanna Valley Central School District - 1040 Conklin Rd. Conklin, New York 13748 - (607) 775-0170

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