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assemblage

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 36166
  • Accession Date:9/28/1990
  • 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.

display, shadow box

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 36522
  • Accession Date:11/14/1990
  • Item Summary:Shadow box display dedicated to U.S. Army Private First Class (PFC) Billy Dean Brigman and consisting of a variety of military issue ephemera, including: a Purple Heart Medal/ribbon/lapel pin, a Bronze Star Medal/ribbon/lapel pin, a U.S. Army 503rd Infantry Regiment distinctive unit insignia pin, a black & white photographic print, a military name plate, two (2) cloth patch U.S. Army enlisted rank insignia- Private First Class E-3 ((PFC), full color), two (2) enlisted U.S. Army collar disk insignia, and a cloth patch, U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team shoulder sleeve insignia, full color. The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall along with another shadow box display (VIVE (36523)) by an anonymous donor in November 1990.

letter, framed handwritten


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Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.

Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.

Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.
  • Catalog Number:VIVE 36392
  • Accession Date:11/14/1990
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: DARREL A BONDROWSKI
  • 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.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00077
  • Record Component Qty:1
  • Item Description:FRAMED, HANDWRITTEN LETTER DEDICATED TO U.S. ARMY CORPORAL (CPL) DARREL ANTHONY BONDROWSKI. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLUE INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, LINED, FIVE (5)-HOLE PUNCHED NOTEBOOK PAPER. THE NOTE 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." IN CONTENT, THE AUTHOR OF THE LETTER BEGINS BY NOTING THAT TWENTY-TWO (22) YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE HIS FATHER'S DEATH, AND PROCEEDS TO INFORM CPL BONDROWSKI THAT HE HAS NOW BEEN MARRIED TO A WOMAN NAMED "SUE" FOR 3 YEARS. THE AUTHOR THEN ASSURES CPL BONDROWSKI THAT, "[...] NEXT YEAR WHEN COME BACK [sic] TO THE WALL LIKE WE DO EVERY YEAR I WILL BE SHOWING YOUR NAME TO YOUR GRANDCHILD AND SAY THAT THIS IS YOUR GRANDFATHER'S NAME AND HE OR SHE WILL KNOW THAT FOR SOME REASON THAT YOU WERE A GREAT MAN." THE AUTHOR GOES ON TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT HE KNEW LITTLE OF HIS FATHER UNTIL HE BEGAN TO ASK QUESTIONS OF HIS MOTHER AND HIS FATHER'S OLD ACQUAINTANCES, RELATES THAT HE LEARNED THAT, "[...] YOU WOULD HAVE DONE JUST ABOUT ANYTHING FOR ANYBODY", AND SURMISES THAT, "I THINK YOU AND ME ARE A LOT ALIKE. / I BECAME A VOL. FIREMAN TO HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY I CAN." THE AUTHOR CONCLUDES HIS LETTER TO HIS FATHER 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." A POSTSCRIPT FOLLOWING THE LETTER SIGNATURE READS, "P.S. LOVE YOU." THE LETTER IS PRESENTLY HOUSED INSIDE A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED, STAINED WOODEN & CLEAR GLASS DISPLAY FRAME BEARING GOLD TRIM AT THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE AND A BLACK CARDBOARD BACKING BOARD WITH A DISPLAY EASEL AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. ACCORDING TO VIVE CATALOG NOTES PREPARED BY MRCE COLLECTIONS STAFF, THE NPS RANGER'S LOG ENTRY NUMBER ASSOCIATED WITH THE ARTIFACT IS AS FOLLOWS: "11/330".
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the handwritten inscriptions upon the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: "Hi Dad, / 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. / Well here it is 22 years later and I am married to a wonderful girl, her name is Sue. / We have been married 3 years and next year when come back [sic] to the wall like we do every year I will be showing your name to your grandchild and say that this is your grandfather's name and he or she will know that for some reason that you were a great man. / I knew little about you until one night I asked Mom about you and talked to some of your old friends to find out who you really were. / 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. / 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. / Your son / Louis Bondrowski / P.S. Love you."
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 650.0g
    • Item Length: 29.0cm
    • Item Width: 24.0cm
    • Item Height: N/A
    • Item Depth: 1.7cm (Frame depth)
  • Item Notes:ACCORDING TO VIVE CATALOG NOTES PREPARED BY MRCE COLLECTIONS STAFF, THE NPS RANGER'S LOG ENTRY NUMBER ASSOCIATED WITH THE ARTIFACT IS AS FOLLOWS: "11/330".
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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.