Shari Kirkpatrick's father made it home from Vietnam. But many others from her state did not. She has now made it her mission to collect a photo of each of the Iowans named on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall.
For Kirkpatrick, the project started last month when The Wall That Heals (TWTH) stopped in Washington, Iowa, and she went to see it with one of her sons and her parents. Her father, Thomas R. Brickman, served with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 196th Light Infantry Brigade and was in Vietnam from 1967-68. Brickman had been drafted into the Army from Bremer County. Iowa.
"My dad has talked a little bit about Vietnam over the years and we have visited The Wall That Heals before, but it was just different this time. " Shari said.
Her father and other veterans swapped stories at the site and as the family was leaving, Bob Dobeck approached them. Dobeck and his wife, Brenda, are site managers for TWTH and Bob asked Brickman if he had found the names he was looking for on The Wall. Brickman told Dobeck that he hadn't because he couldn't remember some of the information, so Dobeck helped them use the computer database to look up the names.
As they were searching for the names and chatting, Dobeck mentioned the Call For Photos initiative to collect photos of each of the 58,282 names etched on The Wall in Washington, D.C. Dobeck also has Iowa ties and said he wanted to make sure all of the names from Iowa would have a photo in the Education Center at The Wall being built across the street.
Shari decided to get involved and help collect the photos from Iowa. She and her parents launched a campaign to collect the photos and have been reaching out statewide to accomplish their goal. To date, VVMF has collected 356 photos of the 853 Iowans on The Wall. Today, an airman from Iowa was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, just a few miles from The Wall. Dennis Eilers' had been missing since his plane went down over Laos in 1965. Eilers' photo is one of those from Iowa that has been submitted and will be displayed in the Education Center.
"I want to accomplish this mission as it is the ultimate gift I could give my Dad, veterans and families and friends of the soldiers," Shari said.
We are looking for a picture of James Howard Pence of Conrad. His birthdate is 8/225/1948. He was in Marine Corps and died 12/18/69.