California Vietnam Veterans Memorial gets 20 additional names

Twenty new names will join the nearly 6,000 already inscribed on the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial during a ceremony this Sunday in Capitol Park.

The event will begin at noon. More than 200 relatives and friends of those being remembered are expected to attend. It will include welcoming remarks by Master of Ceremonies Martin J. Snezek II, and a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action ceremony led by Greg McNeil and Patrick Graham of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 500.

Secretary Vito Imbasciani MD of the California Department of Veterans Affairs and Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost both will be the guest speakers. Imbasciani and Snezek will unveil the new names recently etched on to the Memorial.

The additional names include veterans who served in Vietnam but who later died from injuries or illnesses directly related to their service there, under a provision signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013.

Here are the biographies of those being remembered:

Boehle, Paul Joseph, SP4, USA

Paul Joseph Boehle was born on March 21, 1941, in San Francisco to Aloysius and Marie Boehle. He had two sisters, Louise and Frances, and was the eldest of the three siblings. Paul joined the Army in 1963 and was eventually assigned to the 538th Engineer Battalion in Thailand. After his passing in 1965, a camp (Camp Boehle) was named in his honor and was operational until 1970.

Colvin, Gary Carroll, SP4, USA

Gary Carroll Colvin was born on October 7, 1947. He served in Vietnam as a fire crewman (MOS: 11H20), and was awarded the Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal with a “V” designation.

Davis III, John Robinson, SP5, USA

John Robinson Davis III was born on January 21, 1950, in Glendale and was the second of five children as well as the eldest son. He enlisted in the Army in 1969 and served in Vietnam as a flight paramedic. After he was honorably discharged in 1972, John met his future wife, Elizabeth, while traveling to Australia. Together, they had two daughters, Sara and Megan, to whom he was very close, picking them up after school each day. As the early riser in the family, he made pancakes or was out buying donuts for his girls. He will be remembered as a devoted husband and loving father.

Dickerson, Donald Eugene, CTOC, USN

Donald Eugene Dickerson was born on December 22, 1937 in Keota, OK. His family later moved to California and in 1955, he enlisted in the Navy. He began his career as a Yeoman, then changed rates to a Communications Technician and eventually made the rank of Chief (E-7). He earned many awards during his career, including the Joint Services Commendation Medal at Fort Meade, MD. Chief Dickerson’s last unit was the US Naval Communications Station at San Miguel in the Philippines. Here on our Memorial, he joins three other California crewmates who were also on the C-2 aircraft that crashed into the South China Sea. He is survived by his wife Betty, and his three daughters – Tiia, Elizabeth, and Penny.

Edwards, Jesse Allen, SGT, USMC

Jesse Allen Edwards was born on June 18, 1942. He served nine years in the Marines and received a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam. He and his wife, Norma were married 45 years and had one daughter, Nancy. He was an adored grandfather of Brandon and Joey, and great-grandfather of Aubree and Ava. He loved the outdoors and is greatly missed by his family and friends.

Gaynor, Richard C, ABH3, USN

Richard Gaynor was born in April 1950. He was a Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate on board a C-2 aircraft that was carrying nine additional service members (including aforementioned Donald Dickerson and two other Californians). While on that mission, the aircraft went missing in the South China Sea and was never heard from again. We are honored to have Gaynor’s name on this Memorial … honoring all Californians.

Hiebert, Ronald Duane, SP5, USA

“Ron” Duane Hiebert was born on April 5, 1947. He was working for the Dodge Ridge Ski Patrol when he was drafted into the Army in 1966; he trained as a Green Beret. In 1968, he volunteered for Vietnam. During a mission, his helicopter was shot down and Ron was MIA for over 31 days; he was eventually found. He was honorably discharged with three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with a “V” (valor) device, and the Air Medal. He became an Elk, a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America #391, the VFW, the E Clampus Vitus, and the Motherlode Corvettes. He loved his family and his country.

Horton, Thurman Lee, SP5, USA

Horton receiving Bronze Star

Thurman Lee Horton was born on January 27, 1947. He joined the Army in 1967 and served as a crew chief on a helicopter in Vietnam. He was honorably discharged and received the Bronze Star with a “V” device. He and Donna enjoyed 45 years of marriage. He loved fishing and hunting with his son, Mike, and playing guitar with his best friend, Gary. He is sorely missed by all who knew him.

Hutchison, William Donald, CPL, USMC

Don with his mother, Mary

William “Don” Hutchison was born on February 13, 1949, the only child of Mary and W.D. Hutchison. After his family moved from Seaside to San Jose, he joined the Marines at age 17, finishing his GED after enlisting. He was trained as an engineer equipment mechanic and served in Vietnam as a heavy equipment operator. He was honorably discharged for his service and received the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. He was always loyal and true to his family, friends, and country.

Johnson, John Gregory, MSG, USA

John “Greg” Johnson was born on October 17, 1947. After a year of college, he followed the footsteps of his father and older brothers and decided to join the military. He enlisted in the Army and after a short tour in Germany, volunteered for Vietnam, marrying his long-time girlfriend Susan before leaving. He spent the next 12 months in Vietnam, then returned to the US to complete a long and successful career in the Army. He retired as a Master Sergeant and received the Meritorious Service Medal for his time as the NCOC of his unit. His two great loves were his country and his family, embracing his role as a father to Melissa, Kevin, Holly, and Sarah, and as a grandfather.

Johnson, Steven Dale, PO1, USN

Steven Dale Johnson was born on March 7, 1947. He left high school early and joined the Navy at age 17. Of the ten years as an enlistee, he served five tours in Vietnam, never regretting one day. He eventually earned his GED through the military as well as two college degrees. His devotion to the Navy stayed with him until his passing. He stood proud knowing that in some small way, he gave back to his country everything the Navy had given him.

Kahn, James Philip, SP4, USA

James “Phil” Kahn was born on October 25, 1941, in Kansas, but grew up in Tracy, as one of eight siblings. At 22 years old, Phil was drafted into the Army in 1964, and in 1965 was sent to Vietnam in the first wave of soldiers on the ground. In early 1966, his unit was airlifted out due to the high level of casualties in their last fight. He was flown to Travis AFB and discharged shortly after. In the years that followed, he worked for the GSA in Stockton and married Suzanne, accepting her three young daughters – Lynette, Janice, and Angela – as his own. He was able to walk two of them down the aisle at their weddings as well as enjoy being a grandpa to Shelby, Brooke, Zachary and Lydia. He lived life to the fullest and always knew when someone needed a bear hug.

Kerksieck, Richard Laird, SSG, USAF

Richard Laird Kerksieck was born on December 30, 1937. He served in Vietnam during the early part of the conflict, 1959 to 1961, on the KC 135 aircraft delivering supplies from Misawa, Japan. When he returned stateside, he and his wife Lois had three daughters – Dianna, Christina, and Cheryle. When his third daughter was born at Mather Air Force Base, he told the nurses that he should have a shotgun ready by the door to keep the boys away. When he would come home from work at the base, he would take off his fatigues and put them on his daughters Dianna and Christina. He had an amazing smile that was driven by his girls.

Mason, Lynn Edward, SGT, USA

Lynn Edward Mason was born on November 4, 1948. He was drafted into the Army in 1969 and served in Vietnam as a squad leader in the 2nd Platoon Company, A173D Airborne Brigade. Upon his discharge in 1971, he held the rank of Sergeant and was awarded a Bronze Star for Meritorious Achievement in Ground Force Operations against Hostile Forces, as well as a Purple Heart. He later married Susan in 1972 and had two daughters, Holly and Amy, then eventually three granddaughters, Kyndall, Camryn, and Cali, all of whom are here to honor their father and grandfather.

Mateo, Peter Laurence, CPL, USMC

Peter Laurence Mateo was born on October 21, 1951, in San Francisco. He graduated from Balboa High School in 1969, and joined the Marines, following in the footsteps of his brother, Bill (RIP). After boot camp and Field Artillery School, he married Nadine, then served a tour in Vietnam. He was honorably discharged in 1971 with a National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two stars, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. He and Nadine had three children together, Renee, Peter, and Julie. “Pete,” “Larry,” or “Papa” loved providing for his family, being a good neighbor, and his’64 Chevy step-side. He loved his family and being “Papa.” He is missed every day.

McGaughey, Thomas David, SP4, USA

Thomas David McGaughey was born on December 19, 1947. He served in Vietnam as a door gunner with Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion. Thomas played an integral part during an emergency ammunition re-supply mission for units of the 4th Battalion. While his aircraft landed and was under heavy fire, he suppressed enemy attacks and assisted in the unloading of needed ammunition which contributed greatly to the successful defense of their positions and the defeat of the enemy force. For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Salleng, Michael Rene, SP4, USA

Michael Rene Salleng was born on February 2, 1949. He graduated from Reseda High School then left shortly after for Army boot camp. He served in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division as a gunner on a Huey gunship and was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. After his military service, he worked in the alarm business, as he was very adept with his hands. This also allowed him to teach people to repair their own electronics. He was known for his gentle soul and a hero to his sister, Ginny.

Schamp, Adrienne Lee, SP5, USA

Adrienne Lee Schamp was born on December 12, 2019, in Los Angeles. She served in the Army from July 1968 until April 1972. She served two tours of duty in Vietnam, where she worked in finance at Long Binh, and in Saigon with the Military Assistance Command Vietnam’s 7th Finance. Upon her return stateside in 1972, she opened a home for Vietnamese refugees. She graduated and earned her teaching credential from Sacramento State, and then became a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy. She later moved to Imperial Beach in Southern California, where she became that city’s first woman police officer. She later worked for the California Youth Authority as a team treatment supervisor.

Silva, Salvador Arturo, SGT, USA

Sal Arturo Silva was born August 6, 1948, in Burbank. He was adopted at age 5, and raised as an only child in Glendale. He and Jeannette were married shortly after graduation from high school in 1967. A year later, he went off to boot camp while she was pregnant with the couple’s first child. He served in Troop D, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam in 1969-1970, and rose to Staff Sergeant. He received a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and a Silver Star, which he kept tucked away in a drawer. Married for 45 years, he and Jeannette were parents to a daughter, a son, a grandson and three granddaughters, including one born September 26. He worked for Disney as an electrician for 41 years. He was a humble man who rarely talked about his time in Vietnam, or his heroism.

Vassar, Joseph P, SGT, USMC

Joseph “Joe” Vassar was born on March 18, 1949, in San Francisco. At two years old, his grandmother dressed him up in a scaled-down Army uniform that eventually set into motion a life lived with honor. After he graduated high school in 1967, he enlisted in the Marines and was sent to Vietnam. When he returned home, he married Beckie and moved to Oregon for additional duty as a recruiter, eventually becoming the state’s “Recruiter of the Year”. He was discharged in 1973 after six years of service and eventually moved his family back to California. His family and country meant everything to him, as he took great pride in “his girls”, Beckie, Renee, Stephanie, Alexis, Chantell, Molly, and Josie.

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