- Catalog Number:VIVE 36116
- Accession Date:6/24/1991
- Item Summary:Artifact assemblage dedicated to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (SSG) Clifford William Silvia and consisting of a handwritten letter (with affixed black & white photographic print) and a faux flower bouquet. The letter is addressed, "My Precious Son", is signed, "As I used to end my letters to you in Nam / I love you - I miss you & say your prayers / Love Mom", is dated, "June 22, 1991", and in content recalls how SSG Silvia used to pick bouquets of wild daffodil for his mother as a child. An excerpt from the letter reads, "I hope that you and Dad are together looking down on Sis Cathy and her family and me [...] I have had to become a lot stronger with both of you gone - In another month you will have been gone 24yrs, the pain and heartache are as painful today as they were than [sic]." The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall by the mother of SSG Silvia on June 22, 1991.
letter, framed handwritten
- Catalog Number:VIVE 36392
- Accession Date:11/14/1990
- Item Summary:Framed, handwritten letter dedicated to U.S. Army Corporal (CPL) Darrel Anthony Bondrowski. The letter is addressed, "Hi Dad", is signed, "Your son / Louis Bondrowski", is undated, and opens with the lines, "The last time you saw me I was just starting to walk. / I really didn't get to know you or you to know me." The author of the letter says of the father whom he never knew that, "All the people I have talked to said that you would have done just about anything for anybody. / I think you and me are a lot alike. / I became a Vol. Fireman to help people anyway I can." He then concludes his letter to CPL Bondrowski with the line, "I miss you and wish you were here today so, I didn't have to come to this black wall, but you thought it was right thing [sic] to do by going to Vietnam." The artifact was left at The Wall by Louis Bondrowski in November 1990.
- Catalog Number:VIVE 36166
- Accession Date:9/28/1990
- Associated Name(s) on The Wall: N/A
- Item Summary:Artifact assemblage consisting of a three (3) page handwritten letter upon monogrammed personal stationery and a monogrammed letter envelope. The letter is addressed, "Dear Airman of the 377th Air Police", is signed, "Always / J. M. Kelten / USAF / RVN/USA", is dated, "1 APR 90", and opens with the lines, "The first time I saw you was at sunrise 31 Jan. 68, TET, in the RVN at TSN Airbase. / We had fought a pitch [sic] battle with VC and NVA regulars." In content, the author of the letter describes personally euthanizing a badly wounded American serviceman who could not be reached with medical assistance and whose screams had begun to demoralize his fellow comrades; "You had not moved, and were still screaming. / I shot you in the head (3) times. / You jerked and were silent." The author closes his letter by asking forgiveness of the deceased airman and stating that, "This happened over 22 years ago. / I still don't know your name. / I had nitemares [sic] for 22 years about you." The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall by U.S. Air Force and Vietnam veteran J. M. Kelten on April 1, 1990.
- Accession Group:VIVE-00075
- Record Component Qty:4
- Item Description:ASSEMBLAGE CONSISTING OF: COMPONENT (A) HANDWRITTEN LETTER AND COMPONENT (B) LETTER ENVELOPE. COMPONENT (A) HANDWRITTEN LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND CURSIVE/BLOCK SCRIPT & ARABIC NUMERALS UPON THREE (3) SHEETS OF RECTANGULARLY SHAPED, CREAM COLORED, UNLINED, MONOGRAMMED PERSONAL STATIONERY. THE SHEET COMPRISING PAGE ONE (1) OF THE LETTER BEARS A GRAY, BROWN, PURPLE, GREEN, & PEACH COLORED, GEOMETRIC, SOUTHWESTERN-STYLE GRAPHIC MOTIF PRINTED WITHIN A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED EXTERIOR BORDER CIRCUMSCRIBING THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE SHEET. EACH OF THE THREE (3) SHEETS BEAR THE AUTHOR'S MONOGRAMMED INITIALS, "J M K" EMBOSSED IN RAISED, STYLIZED, BLOCK LETTERS AT THE LOWER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNER OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF EACH SHEET. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED, "DEAR AIRMAN OF THE 377TH AIR POLICE", IS SIGNED, "ALWAYS / J. M. KELTEN / USAF / RVN/USA", IS DATED, "1 APR 90", AND OPENS WITH THE LINES, "THE FIRST TIME I SAW YOU WAS AT SUNRISE 31 JAN. 68, TET, IN THE RVN AT TSN AIRBASE." IN CONTENT, THE AUTHOR ADDRESSES HIS LETTER IN THE FIRST PERSON TO AN UNIDENTIFIED FELLOW AIRMAN HE RECALLS SEEING, "[...] LAYING ON THE EDGE OF THE WEST RUNWAY. / YOU WERE BADLY WOUNDED, LAYING ON YOUR BACK, WITH WHAT APPEARED TO BE A BAD STOMACH WOUND." THE AUTHOR PROCEEDS TO DESCRIBE THE WOUNDED AIRMAN SCREAMING IN PAIN WHILE HIS BLOOD STAINED THE RUNWAY BENEATH HIS BODY, NOTES THAT HIS UNIT ATTEMPTED TO REACH THE WOUNDED MAN, "[...] ONLY 50-60 YARDS AWAY FROM OUR LINES", AND STATES THAT THEY WERE ONLY SUCCESSFUL IN PREVENTING ENEMY FORCES FROM CAPTURING THE WOUNDED FELLOW SERVICEMAN. THE AUTHOR PROCEEDS TO RECOUNT THAT WHEN THE WOUNDED MAN HAD SCREAMED FOR OVER AN HOUR AN OFFICER IDENTIFIED AS, "CAPT. D." INFORMED THE AUTHOR THAT MEDICAL HELP WOULD NOT BE FORTHCOMING FOR THE WOUNDED MAN, THAT THE MAN'S SCREAMS WERE BEGINNING TO DEMORALIZE THE TROOPS, AND RELATES THAT, "HE ASKED IF I COULD PUT THE POOR SOB OUT OF HIS MISERY. / I SAID YES!" THE AUTHOR THEN DESCRIBES THE MERCY KILLING IN THE LINES,"I CRAWLED BACK TO THE LINE. / YOU HAD NOT MOVED, AND WERE STILL SCREAMING. / I SHOT YOU IN THE HEAD (3) TIMES. / YOU JERKED AND WERE SILENT", AND STATES THAT AFTER THREE (3) ADDITIONAL HOURS OF COMBAT, A COUNTERATTACK, AND, "[...] 3 - 4 DAYS OF FIGHTING, WE WON THE BATTLE." THE AUTHOR CLOSES BY REVEALING HIS DESIRE FOR PEACE OF MIND, BEGS FORGIVENESS OF THE FELLOW SERVICEMAN HE EUTHANIZED, AND CONCLUDES HIS LETTER WITH THE LINES, "THIS HAPPENED OVER 22 YEARS AGO. / I STILL DON'T KNOW YOUR NAME. / I HAD NITEMARES [sic] FOR 22 YEARS ABOUT YOU." THE HANDWRITTEN LETTER WAS ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED FOLDED IN HALF (1/2) AND HOUSED INSIDE COMPONENT (B). COMPONENT (B) LETTER ENVELOPE. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED, MONOGRAMMED PERSONAL STATIONERY ENVELOPE COMPRISED OF PINK COLORED, TEXTURED PAPER WITH A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED, ADHESIVE CLOSURE FLAP AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. THE LETTER (COMPONENT (A)) AUTHOR'S MONOGRAMMED INITIALS, "J M K" ARE EMBOSSED IN RAISED, STYLIZED, BLOCK LETTERS UPON THE CENTER OF THE ADHESIVE CLOSURE FLAP AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. COMPONENT (A) WAS ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED FOLDED IN HALF (1/2) AND HOUSED INSIDE THE LETTER ENVELOPE. ACCORDING TO VIVE CATALOG NOTES PREPARED BY MRCE COLLECTIONS STAFF, THE NPS RANGER'S LOG NUMBER ASSOCIATED WITH THE ARTIFACT IS AS FOLLOWS: "# 9/105".
- Associated Item Text: Text of the handwritten & embossed inscriptions upon COMPONENTS (A & B) is transcribed in full, as follows: [COMPONENT (A), pages 1 - 3, obverse object surfaces, embossed inscription] "J M K" / [COMPONENT (A), page 1, obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "1 APR 90 / Dear Airman of the 377th Air Police. / The first time I saw you was at sunrise 31 Jan. 68, TET, in the RVN at TSN Airbase. / We had fought a pitch [sic] battle with VC and NVA regulars. / The battle started about 1 AM, 31 Jan 68 and was still raging on. / You were laying on the edge of the West runway. / You were badly wounded, laying on your back, with what appeared to be a bad stomach wound. / You were holding your stomach and screaming. / The runway under you was stained. / We tried to reach you several times. / You were only 50-60 yards away from our lines; we were pinned down. / The Gooks tried to get you also, we kept them from you. / 1" / [COMPONENT (A), page 2, obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "The sun is up now, you had been screaming for over an hour. / You had not moved. / Word came down the line that Capt. D. wanted to see me. / He was 35 yards to my rear. / He said, you were in great pain. / The Hospital C.O. would not send us any medics. / Your screaming was starting to demoralize the troops. / He asked if I could put the poor SOB out of his misery. / I said yes! / I crawled back to the line. / You had not moved, and were still screaming. / I shot you in the head (3) times. / You jerked and were silent. / We were pinned down for (3) more hours. / Support came and we counter attacked. / I never saw you again. / 3 - 4 days of fighting, we won the battle. / 2" / [COMPONENT (A), page 3, obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "I want peace of mind! / I'm asking for forgiveness. / I hope you would grant me this one request! / This happened over 22 years ago. / I still don't know your name. / I had nitemares [sic] for 22 years about you. / Always / J. M. Kelten / USAF / RVN/USA" / [COMPONENT (B), reverse object surface, embossed inscription] "J M K"
Item Dimensions and Weight:
- Item Weight: 10.9g (Weight of all 3 sheets comprising COMPONENT (A) only)
- Item Length: 20.3cm
- Item Width: 15.2cm
- Item Height: N/A
- Item Depth: N/A
- Item Notes:ACCORDING TO VIVE CATALOG NOTES PREPARED BY MRCE COLLECTIONS STAFF, THE NPS RANGER'S LOG NUMBER ASSOCIATED WITH THE ARTIFACT IS AS FOLLOWS: "# 9/105".
Dimensions listed above are for a single sheet comprising COMPONENT (A) only. Measurements for COMPONENT (B) are as follows:
11.4cm (L) X 16.0cm (W) X 4.5g (Weight)
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.