The California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sacramento’s Capitol Park is a tribute to our fallen heroes. It’s one way we honor the service and sacrifice of Californians who were killed or missing in action, or who died from causes related to their service in Vietnam.
This Saturday, Oct. 14, CalVet and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Honor Committee will host a ceremony to recognize 14 veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. They are the newest of 5,673 names inscribed on the memorial walls.
Among those being honored are two Navy pilots, Lt. Harold S. Roach, Jr. and Lt. j.g. Gregory Hodson, who died in October 1964 in the South China Sea, when their plane crashed as they were attempting to land on the USS Kearsarge in bad weather.
The vets being added to the memorial comprise a diverse group. Some were active in veterans service organizations. Some owned small businesses. James Brady of Stockton was inducted into the Stockton Black Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. Thomas Christopher O’Hare of Long Beach designed specialty parts for motorcycles and made several bikes for the television show “Knight Rider” in the mid 1980’s. Many of them died from causes related to their exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
The Vietnam veterans being added to the wall are:
- Cpl. David Joseph Betti, U.S. Marine Corps, of Ventura;
- Spc. 5 James Brady, U.S. Army, of Stockton;
- Sgt. James Allen Gray, U.S. Air Force, of Auburn;
- Lt. (j.g.) Gregory Keith Hodson, U.S. Navy, of West Sacramento;
- Spc. 4 Ernest Allen Meekins, U.S. Army, of Helendale;
- Sgt. George Richard Neal, U.S. Army, of Oakley;
- Spc. 4 Thomas C. O’Hare, U.S. Army, of Long Beach;
- Seaman Jerry Ray Oliver, U.S. Navy, of Modesto;
- Spc. 4 Thomas William Reilly, U.S. Army, of Tacoma, WA (born in Los Angeles);
- Lt. Harold Stuart Roach, Jr., U.S. Navy, of Los Angeles;
- Spc. 4 Victor Mario Salas, U.S. Army, of Sonora;
- TSgt. Richard P. Susoeff, U.S. Air Force, of Marysville;
- Lance Cpl. Ronald Van Westburg, U.S. Marine Corps, of Sacramento; and
- Spc. 4 Dennis Wilburn Williams, U.S. Army, of Sacramento.
Family, friends, fellow veterans and elected officials will gather to remember them this weekend. The public is welcome to attend. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Capitol Park, 15th Street and Capitol Avenue, Sacramento.
Watch a video of the ceremony.
Adding Names to the Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Honor Committee was created when Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill 287 in 2013. The Committee is tasked with compiling a list of names of California Vietnam Veterans who died as a result of illness or injuries, including documented physical or mental injuries, which can reasonably be assumed to have resulted from military service in the Vietnam War, for addition to the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
For more information, visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Honor Committee web page at www.calvet.ca.gov/Vietnam.