The Wall of Faces

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DONN PETER ZARINA


is honored on Panel 30W, Line 9 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Leave a Remembrance

REMEMBRANCES

  • A Name On A Wall....

    Posted on 5/13/17 - by Alan Minkel kayakkilted@gmail.com
    Original Post:
    "Well, dang. A Raider win would have been a perfect ending to an otherwise, near perfect day.
    This was my first real weekend off since I started on midnights. Every other weekend has been filled with work &/or traveling for pre-arranged events. The traveling counts, I suppose, as an actual weekend. However, it never truly lends itself to a relaxing weekend type endeavor...especially with an anti-travel baby.
    That being said, it was a really great actual day off at & near home.
    Last night it was order-in pizza & some catching up on Hulu. We're married with a 11 month old...there is no "Netflix & chill." (Google it. It means something WAY different than you might think.)
    We started our Saturday somewhat well rested, well, I was. I got to sleep seven hours in my own bed next to my wife! That is a rare occasion on both counts at best. We attended the the Rose City Rotor Fest mid morning with my folks & Hattie & Holden. Helicopter air show of sorts. My dad told me about it about a week earlier. He said there would be various Law Enforcement agencies there recruiting & thought I would be interested in actually making some decent pay in my line of work. I was & am, but despite my meager wages, I do enjoy my position in my current department.
    I called him last night to get the details & he was strangely hesitant about going. I wasn't completely sure why until we got there.
    When we walked up, he was talking to the DPS , Tyler PD, & Smith Co SO recruiters. Not really that out of the ordinary, he's always promoting me & my role in this occupation like any good father or manager would.
    This time was a little different though. It was like there were some opposite polarity magnet pushing him...not towards something, but very much away. As we all left the recruiters, I saw the polarity shift. That's when I knew why he was so hesitant.
    I happened to glance back & I saw tears well in my father's eyes. It was only then I realized that he wasn't pulled to the first responders & recruiters. He was pushing away, yet drawn to something else completely...& he was fighting it with everything he had.
    You see, my dad was a draft dodger back in the late 60's. Not in the way you might think.
    His number had come up & he was to be called into the Vietnam Conflict...war, if you're so inclined.
    He & a number of his friends were unwittingly drafted to the service of this country in a fight that they didn't understand. So, my father did what any young man might do to avoid the battle lines in the East Asian front, aside from flee to Canada or the ilk...he joined the service, but in the Air Force.
    His number was literally up.
    My wife & child, my niece & nephew, & my mother churned about, talking of what we would have for lunch...what sights we we would see at this otherwise innocuous & fun event.
    As we chattered on, my dad silently broke away.
    It was then when the weight of this fun family outing crashed down upon me.
    It was the Wall.
    It was the Wall he was avoiding with all his might.
    It was the Wall that welled his eyes & drew him straightway from his family & these "good time" outings the rest of us were enjoying.
    ...& it was the Wall where we saw him once we realized he wasn't next to us.
    The Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall.
    An 80% replica, traveling version of The Wall.
    58,195 names.
    58,195 names on a wall.
    A mobile tribute to those that gave all, those that gave their lives during the Vietnam War.
    There was my dad...looking for a name or names.
    The Wall bears the names of service members lost by date on it's expanding sprawl & it is a long list. I'm not sure he has ever seen this scale model, but he went straight to a intentional place on it.
    I could see him remove his hat out of respect & wipe tears away as he touched a specific name. I took notice as he pulled out his phone & took a few pictures of a name. He's not on social media, so the pictures were not meant for sharing...no Facebook, no Instagram, nothing to be shared or liked or commented on...just a few pictures taken for him & the name or names alone.
    I tried in vain to stop my nephew from unwittingly, gleefully approaching him. Holden had no way of knowing what he was bounding towards...& maybe that's for the best, for now. He was upset when five officers lost their lives in Dallas...58,195 lives is probably too much to comprehend. It is for me & that's just one conflict in military history.
    My father gained his composure without most of his family knowing. He's always been a sensitive soul & cries easily...just like his son...just like his grandson.
    Luckily, I had my large Oakley's on to conceal my tears from my wife & family.
    We all walked away & continued our family outing. We had funnel cake, looked at fighter jets, helicopters, & enjoyed our time together as a family.
    We stood straight as arrows for Colors, the pledge of allegiance, & our amazing National Anthem.
    (PS. Not one soul took a knee in protest. Even the very crippled defied their wheelchairs & impairments just to stand up & honor our flag)
    It was beautiful.
    As our family sat down to enjoy some lunch before afternoon soccer games, goodwill shopping, Hulu binging, & all the fun time plans we all had, something else happened.
    Something that I haven't experienced in many, many years.
    A lone bugle call caught all of our ears in mid conversation.
    Taps.
    Three simple, subtle tones bellowed forth...
    Without hesitation, my father & I leapt from our seats & turned towards the sound at full attention. Holden, without hesitating, followed suit.
    I haven't heard taps actually played in years...decades even, but having grown up in the military & living on a base for most of my formative years, instinct kicked in. Mid sentence. Stop everything. Stand at attention. Face the flag.
    Remember.
    Remember.
    Remember my father struggle to see a name on a wall.
    Remember why the men crippled by battle & age, remove their "Vietnam Vet" hats & fight their own bodies just to stand for a few brief moments.
    Remember the men & women of service that gave the ultimate sacrifice.
    Remember their families that carry on long after the loss & with only memories.
    Remember the Wall.
    Remember our Nation.
    Remember our Freedom.
    Remember.
    Remember.
    Remember."

    Here is the reply Email from from my dad:

    "Thank you for your facebook post ... you are a talented writer and a wonderful son and friend

    The name on the wall is that of Don Zarina Fairview High School class of 1967 ... killed in a Huey helicopter
    near Quang Ngai South Vietnam. While some of my friends headed to the safety of Canada Don headed off
    to the Army. I do no know his draft number nor if that was a motivation for him. We never spoke after high
    school and then only sporatically in high school.

    Don was killed on March 1st, 1969..... what would he have done with 47 more years of life? Would he have
    as great of life as I have had ... great family...friends...experiences....grandkids.... church ... on and on blessings

    While I do not ... and did not understand Vietnam ... I do wish he had more time ... more opportunities ...
    and maybe a son like mine

    Love ya ... thanks for the hug"
    MORE
  • Final Mission of SP4 Donn P. Zarina

    Posted on 1/17/15 - by wkillian@smjuhsd.org
    On March 1, 1969, a U.S. Army helicopter UH-1D (tail number 65-10020) from the 174th Assault Helicopter Company was operating in in Quang Ngai Province, about 5 miles southwest of Mo Duc. The aircraft, piloted by WO1 Edward L. Harris and WO1 Ray R. Davis, was flying 1/20 Infantry Battalion Command and Control. At the time of the accident, the aircraft was being used to exchange personnel on an observation post (o.p.). The aircraft had been into the location on one previous personnel drop-off and was returning with the remainder of personnel and equipment. On the first drop off at the o.p. the approach was made to the southeast which put the aircraft into the wind, and no apparent problems were reported. On the second lift onto the o.p., the approach was started to the northwest, which put the aircraft downwind. The approach was apparently overshot by whoever had control of the aircraft at the time. The pilot in control of the aircraft apparently tried to make a pedal turn to get back on the o.p. At this time it is assumed that the aircraft lost power and began losing altitude. Approximately 50 meters down the hill the main rotor struck the ground. Slightly further down the main fuselage made impact and started to break apart. A fire erupted in the main portion of the aircraft which completely consumed the helicopter. The crash killed the entire crew of the helicopter, consisting of the aircraft commander WO1 Davis, pilot WO1 Harris, crew chief SP4 Donn P. Zarina, and gunner PFC David E. Schulze. The crash also took the lives of five passengers, including SGT Rodney M. Goode, SP4 Jimmy R. Gross, CPL David E. Lovegren, SP4 Thomas L. Gaines, and CPL James A. Craft. Two passengers survived the wreck and were removed by medevac shortly afterwards for medical treatment. During the recovery operation, CPL Lovegren's body was being hoisted onboard the extraction helicopter when the lifting device dropped his remains about 1,000 meters from the extraction point. An effort was made to relocate and recover Lovegren's body, but hostile forces were in the loss area, and CPL Lovegren could not be recovered. CPL David E. Lovegren is listed with honor among the missing because his body has never been returned to his homeland for burial. [Taken from vhpa.org and pownetwork.org]
    MORE
  • Remembering An American Hero

    Posted on 11/11/13 - by Curt Carter ccarter02@earthlink.net
    Dear SP4 Donn Peter Zarina, 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, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir

    Curt Carter
    MORE
  • We Remember

    Posted on 8/16/11 - by Robert Sage rsage@austin.rr.com
    Donn is buried at Mountain View Memorial Park, Boulder,CO. AM
  • Orange Mustang

    Posted on 10/30/08 - by Kent Miles gkmiles@juno.com
    Donn - I will always see you driving your orange Mustang convertible and playing your Fender guitar !!
    Miss you still, buddy.
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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.