The Wall of Faces

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is honored on Panel 1W, Line 132 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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  • You are not forgpotten

    Posted on 2/11/18 - by jerry sandwisch wood cty.ohio nam vet 1969-70 army 173rd abn bde
    The war may be forgotten but the warrior will always be remembered !!!! All gave Some-Some gave All. Rest in peace Richard. :-(
  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 3/28/16 - by Curt Carter
    Dear 2LT Richard Vandegeer, 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
  • First Last & Forever

    Posted on 11/24/15 - by Peter DeFresco
    You were the cornerstone of my play "First Last and Forever", and for me you will always be the last name on the wall.
  • RIP Lt Vandegeer

    Posted on 5/25/15 - by Terry Arndt
    I so enjoyed flying with you and getting to know you well enough to call you the "Field Marshall" You may be MIA but will remain safely in the hearts of those who cared about and loved you. I pray we meet again.




    CHRONICLE-TELEGRAPH - 28 May 2007 -

    Jamie Lindstrom, a North Ridgeville veterinarian, knew Richard Vandegeer as the stepbrother he enjoyed playing with when they were small children.

    The nation knows Richard Vandegeer as the last official casualty of the Vietnam War and as the last name inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington.

    Vandegeer died at age 27 in one of the most infamous battles of the Vietnam War, the Mayaguez Incident of 15 May 1975 — two weeks after the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam.

    Vandegeer joined the United States Army in 1968 and signed up to be a helicopter pilot.

    He knew he could not be sent to Vietnam because his father was already in the Army there, according to Vandegeer’s longtime friend, Richard Sandza of Baltimore.

    “ Like so many other American young people, Richard Vandegeer did not want to go to Vietnam,” Sandza wrote in a column about his friend for the Baltimore Guide.

    Vandegeer spent two years in South Korea.

    In 1971, he was discharged but grew restless and joined the United States Air Force.

    He was sent to Thailand and, on the last day of American involvement, ended up as part of a helicopter outfit based at the Thai borders of Cambodia and Laos.

    On 15 May 1975 Vandegeer was sent on a mission to rescue the crew of the Mayaguez, an American merchant ship that had been captured by the Khmer Rouge.

    The ship’s crew, however, had been taken off the ship and was reportedly being held on Koh Tang Island in the Gulf of Thailand.

    Vandegeer’s helicopter, according to Sandza’s article, had slowed for a landing on the island to deliver a Marine assault force when a rocket-propelled grenade fired from the underbrush blew the helicopter out of the sky.

    Vandegeer was one of 18 men who died that day. Fifty others were wounded.

    “ One of the surviving crewmen told me Vandegeer’s helicopter burned for hours,” Sandza wrote.

    In 1991, an operation to recover remains from the helicopter yielded only a large number of co-mingled remains, according to the Arlington National Cemetery Web site.

    It wasn’t until four years later that Vandegeer’s remains were identified.

    Authorities, however, spent another year confirming the results using DNA testing.

    Vandegeer’s remains were finally laid to rest in 2000 — 25 years after his death — in Arlington National Cemetery, capping the decade-long recovery and identification operation.

    “ I always felt a little cheated because I never got to know him later in life,” says Lindstrom, who was separated from his stepbrother when their parents divorced early in their childhoods.

    “ I was probably only 5 or 6 then,” Lindstrom said. “ Richard would come over to visit; we liked to do things together. He liked to do things with Lincoln Logs, and we’d just dump them out and start building. It’s funny how some things stick in your mind.”

    When Lindstrom’s father and stepmother divorced, she took Vandegeer and returned to her native Netherlands.

    She and her son returned to the U.S. some years later and settled in Columbus.



    R E M E M B R A N C E


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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