The Wall of Faces

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is honored on Panel 21E, Line 80 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Leave a Remembrance


  • My Beloved Uncle & Godfather

    Posted on 5/29/17 - by Lourdes Mellino
    My uncle Rafael will never be forgotten. I was just 13 when we lost him...I remember as if it was yesterday the call coming in one last summer's night that his plan was missing. Weeks later we buried him in Arlington National Cemetery with a 21 gun salute.
  • Final Mission of CAPT Rafael L. Rivera-Balaguer

    Posted on 3/15/17 - by
    On June 9, 1967, a USAF C-130B Hercules (#58-0737) from the 29th Troop Carrier Squadron, crashed approximately 12 miles east of Tan Son Nhut, RVN. The C-130B, with ten persons aboard, was conducting a series of scheduled logistics flights within South Vietnam. The last leg of the trip was from Nha Trang to Saigon. As the aircraft neared Saigon it was vectored around an artillery firing zone. The aircraft broke up in flight, with both wings separating from the fuselage, and crashed. It was assumed that the structural failure resulted from ground fire. There were no survivors. The lost crew included pilot CAPT Rafael L. Rivera-Balaguer, co-pilot CAPT Jerome F. Starkweather, navigator CAPT Richard W. Podell, loadmaster SSGT Ricky L. Herndon, and flight engineers SSGT Ira E. Scott and SSGT William E. Tyree. Its passengers (all U.S. Army) were 1LT Richard A. Gray, SP5 Frank R. Ragusa, SP4 Craig R. Schoenbaum, and SP5 Andrew H. Shimp. [Taken from and]
  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 6/9/16 - by Curt Carter
    Dear Captain Rafael L Rivera-Balaguer, 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
  • If I should die...remembrances for CAPT. Rafael L. RIVERA-BALAGUER, USAF...who died for our country!

    Posted on 5/12/11 - by
    If I should die, and leave you here awhile, be not like others, sore undone, who keep long vigils by the silent dust, and weep...for MY sake, turn again to life, and smile...Nerving thy heart, and trembling hand to do something to comfort other hearts than thine...CFomplete these dear, unfinished tasks of mine...and I, perchance, may therein comfort you.
  • Not forgotten

    Posted on 6/9/05 - by Dave Kruger, 196th LIB. 66-67
    Rafael, Although we never met, I just want you to know you are not forgotten. You gave the ultimate sacrifice, your life for what you believed in. Sleep well my friend, and thank you for protecting the freedoms we have today.
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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.