Items Left at The Wall

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assemblage

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 34818
  • Accession Date:4/23/1990
  • Item Summary:Artifact assemblage dedicated to U.S. Air Force Senior Airman (SrA) Joseph Andrew Matejov and U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Todd Michael Melton and consisting of a handwritten letter bearing an affixed military issue, Distinguished Flying Cross Medal, full color. The letter is dedicated to, "Joe Matejov / Todd Melton / And the rest of the crew of "Baron 52" ", is signed, "Bob "Kaiser" Wilhelm", is dated, "18 Feb '90", and opens with the lines, "Sorry I can't remember all your names. / It's been such a long time." The author concludes his letter by stating that, "They gave me this DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross Medal]. But I didn't earn it. / You guys did and then some. / It's yours." The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall by U.S. Air Force and Vietnam veteran Bob "Kaiser" Wilhelm on February 18, 1990.

letter, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 35084
  • Accession Date:4/23/1990
  • Item Summary:Handwritten letter. The letter is headed, "B. Co 1st Recon Bn 1st Mar. Div. / To Cheyene [sic], June 03 - 1968", is addressed, "To my friends and brothers in Cheyene [sic]", is signed, "Good bye for now / Love / Jimmy", and opens with the line, "It has been twenty two years since you left and we never said goodbye." In content, the author of the letter introduces himself as, "[...] Jimmy Finn [...] the guy who got there to [sic] late to say good-bye" and references his role in retrieving the bodies of his dead comrades for return to their loved ones back home. Mr. Finn states that, "I can't imagine what it was like that night to die as you did and wonder why" and goes on to inform his former comrades that he misses them, that he is certain their spirits still roam the countryside of Vietnam, and that they continue play an active role in the difficult life he has led since his return from the war. The author closes his letter with the plea to, "[...] pray for me to find peace of mind and meaning in life with the time I have left" and concludes with the line, "God I loved you guys more than can ever can [sic] be put into words." The artifact was left at The Wall by U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran Jimmy Finn between January - April 1990.

assemblage


  • Catalog Number:VIVE 35078
  • Accession Date:4/23/1990
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: SPENCER A GOETHE
  • Item Summary:Artifact assemblage dedicated to U.S. Army Corporal (CPL) Spencer Alan Goethe and consisting of a printed letter and a letter envelope. The letter envelope bears a handwritten inscription at the obverse surface reading, "Excerpts from letters written by Spencer Goethe telling of combat in Viet Nam from Jan. to Apr. 2 1970 when he was killed." The printed letter is comprised of various excerpts from these letters, one of which reads (in part), "Hour after hour of frightening hell. / For health reasons, such as same clothes for 1 month, I don't wear underwear. / Latrine, what's that? / Try no hot meals, sometimes no food, sleeping on rock hard ground and humping all you own on your back for rediculous [sic] distances. / The VC and NVA are banding together. / We killed one officer and in a book he had were details of our every move such as how we get resupplyand [sic] how each Plt. acted under fire. / It's real Bad!" The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall by an anonymous donor between January - April 1990.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00071
  • Record Component Qty:2
  • Item Description:ASSEMBLAGE DEDICATED TO U.S. ARMY CORPORAL (CPL) SPENCER ALAN GOETHE AND CONSISTING OF: COMPONENT (A) PRINTED LETTER AND COMPONENT (B) LETTER ENVELOPE. COMPONENT (A) PRINTED LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER PRINTED IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER BEARING A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED, BLACK EXTERIOR BORDER CIRCUMSCRIBING THE PRINTED TEXT AT THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. THE DOCUMENT IS ENTITLED, "EXCERPTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN BY SPENCER GOETHE FROM VIET NAM JAN TO APRIL 1970", IS COMPRISED OF SIX (6) SEPARATE EXCERPTED PARAGRAPHS, AND PROVIDES MINUTE DETAIL REGARDING CPL GOETHE'S VARIOUS EXPERIENCES IN COMBAT DURING HIS THREE (3) MONTHS IN VIETNAM PRIOR TO HIS DEATH ON APRIL 2, 1970. THE PRINTED LETTER WAS ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED FOLDED INTO FOURTHS (1/4) AND HOUSED INSIDE COMPONENT (B). COMPONENT (B) LETTER ENVELOPE. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED ENVELOPE COMPRISED OF PLAIN WHITE PAPER WITH A TRIANGULARLY SHAPED, ADHESIVE CLOSURE FLAP AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. AN INSCRIPTION HANDWRITTEN IN BLUE INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS ALONG THE UPPER EDGE OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE ENVELOPE READS, "EXCERPTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN BY SPENCER GOETHE TELLING OF COMBAT IN VIET NAM FROM JAN. TO APR. 2 1970 WHEN HE WAS KILLED." COMPONENT (A) WAS ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED FOLDED INTO FOURTHS (1/4) AND HOUSED INSIDE THE LETTER ENVELOPE.
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the printed & handwritten inscriptions upon COMPONENTS (A & B) is transcribed in full, as follows: [COMPONENT (A), obverse object surface, printed inscriptions] "EXCERPTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN BY SPENCER GOETHE FROM VIET NAM JAN TO APRIL 1970 / I'm on San Juan hill & the monsoon season presents problems. / Things are tightening up as the N.V.A. are beginning to mass. / You know I'm not one to complain about conditions over here so I'm not even going to tell you what it's like. / I don't think you'd really want to know. / Two days ago we shot up a bunch of dinks just before dark. / We went on patrol the next day to check the bodies again. / We tied a rope to the feet of anofficer [sic] to see if he was booby-trapped. / His brains fell ou [sic] of hisshot-up [sic] head. / The day before (when we shot him) we found a plan to attack Duc Pho on him. / Yo u [sic] get small cuts all over your body and your body can't fight them all so they get infected. / I have 28 on my writing hand. / We've made contact 5 times in the last 3 days with the dinks. / It sure scares one. / As time passes I really wonder why we're here. / You can't imagine. / I just set out the trip flares and beepers. / You put beepers in the ground, set the frequency and camoflauge [sic]. / They pick up footsteps of people coming at us. / If they get real close they trip a wire setting off a flare lighting up t he [sic] whole area. / Got shot at 5 times in the last 3 days./Wow! / It's a good thing the little fellas from the north aren't too good shooters. / Things didn't get real bad until March 2nd when we ran into an ambush. / We were going up a hill and it was so thick you couldn't break off the trail. / A batallion [sic] (200) was dug in about 30 meters when we spotted it. / Thankheaven [sic] we saw it then. / Our platoon was on patrol so were the only ones there (2 0 [sic] people). / We fired and ran back. / We called in gunships. / They used their rockets and mini-guns for an hour. / Another platoon joined us and we went to pick up what we thought would be pieces. / The gunships hadn't phased them. / The other platoon split and went to the left where the trail divided. / As soon as they split a chicom grenade went off and wounded 3 guys. / It may have killed them, I don't know because 5 hours later after the firefight was over and we got the bodies out they also had their heads all shot up. / We broke contact again and called artillery and air strikes in for a half day. / Altho [sic] we lost nobody in the mortarattack [sic] that morning bhe [sic] ambush killed 3 andwounded [sic] 17. / The artillery and bombs surely must have killed them. / March 7th the dinks got on our radio frequency and told us to get off their mountain. / We did. / We marched far away. / This was diversion. / The next day we got C.A. (combat assault) up to mountain in choppers. / March 11th we went down the hill and were going to go thru [sic] our old ambush site to see how they were deployed. / About noon we made contact and shot up one dink. / An hour later we did the same. / Our scout said it was the [sic] give the VC a chance to set up an ambush at bottom of trail. / He also warned us before but the CO drove on. / We hit contact a gain [sic], one was killed, 3 wounded. / The dinks were as close as 10 meters but we broke thru [sic] on a dead run while firing. / It's now dark and we're still in trouble. / We marched for 4 hours in the night with only flareships to give us light. / We had to make stretchers and carry our dead and slowly dying be-cause [sic] 3 med-evacs got shot up, one going down, the others barely making it to safety. / All told, one killed, 8 wounded, one critical. / The next morning we were CA'd to our firebase for a rest. / WOW! / Hour after hour of frightening hell. / For health reasons, such as same clothes for 1 month, I don't wear underwear. / Latrine, what's that? / Try no hot meals, sometimes no food, sleeping on rock hard ground and humping all you own on your back for rediculous [sic] distances. / The VC and NVA are banding together. / We killed one officer and in a book he had were details of our every move such as how we get resupplyand [sic] how each Plt. acted under fire. / It's real Bad!" / [COMPONENT (B), obverse object surface, handwritten inscription] "Excerpts from letters written by Spencer Goethe telling of combat in Viet Nam from Jan. to Apr. 2 1970 when he was killed."
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 4.5g (Weight of COMPONENT (A) only)
    • Item Length: 27.8cm
    • Item Width: 21.5cm
    • Item Height: N/A
    • Item Depth: N/A
  • Item Notes:Dimensions listed above are for COMPONENT (A) only. Measurements for COMPONENT (B) are as follows:

    [COMPONENT (B)]:
    10.5cm (L) X 23.9cm (W) X 4.4g (Weight)
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Items left at The Wall - The Virtual Collection

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982. Shortly thereafter, visitors to the Memorial began leaving items in memoriam to those killed and missing service members listed on The Wall. These artifacts now collectively comprise the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection -- a museum collection of more than 400,000 items held in the public trust by the National Park Service. Today, this Collection is among the largest and most actively researched collections in the National Capital Region.

The Collection is jointly curated by National Mall and Memorial Parks and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). The VVMF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies upon public donations to continue its work, and receives no federal funding.