The Wall of Faces

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STEVE FLAHERTY


is honored on Panel 28W, Line 35 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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REMEMBRANCES

  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 3/25/14 - by Curt Carter ccarter02@earthlink.net
    Dear SGT Steve Flaherty, sir

    As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.

    May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.

    With respect, Sir

    Curt Carter
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  • I will never forget

    Posted on 9/23/13 - by LTC (ret) Rod Green
    Steve, I can remember like it was yesterday. We were fellow students at the NCOC at Fort Benning, GA, and later served in Vietnam in sister companies. You were in Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry and I was in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry. We were in the same battling in March 1969, in the Ashau Valley, at a place that became know as Dong A Tay. I helped recover your body from the battlefield. That is a day I will never forget.
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  • Never Forgotten

    Posted on 11/23/12

    Rest in peace with the warriors.

    MORE
  • Forever remembered

    Posted on 7/16/12 - by Nam vet

    A miracle’ after 43 years


    Letters from Vietnam soldier come home.



    Some 43 years after his death in Vietnam, the thoughts and words of Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty of Columbia are still finding their way home to his family in South Carolina.


    In an emotional and somber ceremony at Memorial Park in downtown Columbia on Saturday, four unsent letters belonging to the young soldier who fought in the 101st Airborne Division were returned to Flaherty’s family nearly half a century after he was killed in action at the age of 22.


    “It is a miracle that these letters have shown up after all this time,” an emotional Kenneth Cannon, Flaherty’s uncle, said at the ceremony held at the city’s Vietnam memorial.



    Flaherty, a soldier who was killed in Vietnam, never had a chance to send the letters. A ceremony was held at Memorial Park. After reading the letters, the family plans to turn the letters over to the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.


    -Steve Flaherty was a baseball star at Dentsville High and made the all-conference team in college before joining the Army after his freshman year. He was killed six months after being sent to Vietnam.


    In June, the government of Vietnam turned over letters taken from a Columbia, S.C.,




    ‘Got too close to being dead’



    Excerpts of letters from Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty of Columbia taken by the North Vietnamese, which he abbreviates as NVA, after he was killed in a 1969 battle:



    Letter to Betty: 'We have been in a fierce fight with NVA. We took in lots of casualties and death. It has been trying days for me and my men. We dragged more bodies of dead and wounded than I can ever want to forget.


    'Thank you for your sweet card. It made my miserable day a much better one but I don’t think I will ever forget the bloody fight we are having.


    'I felt bullets going past me. I have never been so scared in my life. Well I better close for now before we go in again to take that hill.'


    Letter to Mother: 'If Dad calls, tell him I got too close to being dead but I’m O.K. I was real lucky. I’ll write again soon.


    'Our platoon started off with 35 men but winded up with 19 men when it was over. We lost platoon leader and whole squad.


    'The NVA soldiers fought until they died and one even booby trapped himself and when we approached him, he blew himself up and took two of our men with him.'


    Letter to Mrs. Wyatt:


    'This is a dirty and cruel war but I’m sure people will understand the purpose of this war even though many of us might not agree.'



    The letters were discovered by a retired Department of Defense analyst who had come across a Vietnamese online magazine. The article described a soldier there who had held onto the letters for years in hopes of returning them to Flaherty’s family.


    Sealed in an unassuming white envelope, the letters were presented by members of the 101st Airborne Division to Cannon. The ceremony – which included about 20 members of Flaherty’s extended family, members of the military, veteran’s groups and the general public who had come to pay their respects – was at times difficult for Cannon, who remembers Flaherty as well-liked and loved by many.


    “Everybody he met was a friend,” Cannon said, fighting back tears. “Everyone loved Steve.”


    In some ways, the incredible journey of the lost letters first began half a world away, when Cannon’s nephew, Ron Flaherty, first found Steve – the son of an American serviceman and Japanese mother – living in a Japanese orphanage. The year was 1957 and Ron, stationed overseas, was so taken with the boy that he convinced his parents back in the United States to adopt him. He arrived in Columbia when he was 9 years old.


    Steve Flaherty, as he was named, grew up to be a popular student and promising athlete. In fact, the Dentsville High School standout, once mentioned in Columbia papers, The Record and The State newspaper, turned down a chance to play baseball for the Cincinnati Reds. Instead, he decided to enlist.


    “He felt it was his duty to fight for the country he loved and that had done so much for him,” Cannon said.


    Flaherty’s adopted parents, Raymond and Lois, and brother Ron have passed away now.


    But for his sister-in-law, Martha Gibbons, the incredible journey of the orphaned boy who would later die for a country he believed in is still amazing.


    The family says it can all sometimes seem a little overwhelming.


    “It’s just a culmination of the life he led,” Gibbons said.


    The family plans to donate the letters to the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia. There, they will become part of a new exhibit on Vietnam the museum has planned.


    “He came from such a meager background,” Gibbons said. “It’s so honoring to know that now his life and what he gave will live forever.”


    For Cannon, his nephew’s journey has come full circle.


    “This is probably the final chapter in Steve’s life,” he said, clutching the envelope to his chest. He doesn’t know yet when he’ll open the envelope and read the letters, but when the time comes, he said, he’ll know.


    “Just to hold something that Steve held in his hands, that’s going to be touching. It’s like having him back here with us.”



    Steve you will never be forgotten.

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  • An American hero and a proud South Carolinian

    Posted on 7/14/12 - by Arnold Huskins

    May the American people never forget the sacrifice he made on their behalf.

    MORE
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The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.

All of these photos will be showcased in The Education Center at The Wall on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the effort to collect these photos and ensure their faces will never be forgotten, visit www.buildthecenter.org.