My father PFC RONALD REYES was United States Marine that served with the 1st battalion /9th Marines “The Walking Dead”. There are 749 men from the 1/9 that are memorialized on “The Wall” in Washington D.C. My father is one of those names, and you can visit his name on panel 47E, line 16, 1st name. He was killed March 30, 1968 in the Khe Sanh area when I was just a few weeks old. I never knew him, but over the years family and his Marine brothers have filled in the gaps. I thought that I had learned everything I needed to learn, but that changed in 2014 with a trip to DC. My journey has changed from learning about one name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to learning about other men who gave their life in the service of our country.
Outreach has become part of my journey and mission. I have been fortunate to speak in front of Vietnam Veterans to share my story, and I can tell by the response that there is healing that is still needed. What I didn’t expect is the healing I have received in return. The response to my story has been overwhelming, and I will highlight that one name on the wall as long as someone will listen. There is a story behind each and every one of the 58,307 names on the wall…….and they are all important.
I am reaching out to you about a trip to Vietnam that is being organized for December 2015. This trip has two important aims. First, it will help me get to Hill 689 overlooking Khe Sanh Air base, the site in Vietnam where my father died, so that I can stand in that very important place. Second, it will connect, for the first time in this momentous year, two groups who were gravely impacted by the war; the children on both sides who lost their fathers. We have grown up with one version of the story about why our fathers fought each other, but we have never had the opportunity to meet, hear the other side, and understand the war’s full impact.
Our trip is being organized by the Vietnam-USA Society and Margot Carlson Delogne, daughter of John W. Carlson, an Air Force pilot who was shot down near Bien Hoa in 1966. They have put together an agenda that will allow us to travel to the sites where our fathers spent their last moments, see key wartime sites, as well as witness and support the humanitarian efforts that are reducing the impact of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese people. Ten sons and daughters from the U.S. will go, and we will document the trip so that we can share our journey.
This promises to be an important trip for us all to heal the war’s wounds. I am determined to make this trip, however, this is a sudden expense that I did not anticipate. This is why I am reaching out. I am not very good about asking for help, but anything to help lessen the cost would be greatly appreciated. Even just taking the time to read this means a lot.
The trip will cost about $5,000, which includes all travel, lodging, meals, and donations to humanitarian organizations.
- J & G Pratt