From the collection of the National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks.
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.
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: COMPONENT (A) HANDWRITTEN LETTER AND COMPONENT (B) MILITARY ISSUE, DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS MEDAL, FULL COLOR. COMPONENT (A) HANDWRITTEN LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON TWO (2) RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEETS OF WHITE, LINED, FIVE (5) HOLE-PUNCHED SPIRAL NOTEBOOK PAPER. THE TWO (2) SHEETS COMPRISING THE LETTER ARE AFFIXED TO ONE ANOTHER AT THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNERS OF THEIR OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACES VIA THE PIN/CLASP BACKING AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF COMPONENT (B). 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." IN CONTENT, THE AUTHOR WRESTLES WITH THE IDEA THAT HE COULD HAVE DONE MORE AS THE INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNED, "THE DUTY THAT NIGHT" TO ORGANIZE SEARCH & RESCUE FORCES FOR THE LOST AIRMEN, AND STATES, "WE ALL THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD. THAT'S WHAT THEY TOLD US. / I DIDN'T FIND OUT THEY'D CHANGED YOUR STATUS TIL [sic] JUST A FEW YEARS AGO." THE AUTHOR GOES ON TO ASSURE HIS COMRADES THAT HE HAS NOT STOPPED THINKING ABOUT THEM FOR 17 YEARS AND ACKNOWLEDGES THAT, "PART OF ME HOPES YOUR [sic] STILL ALIVE AND YET I WOULDN'T WISH 17 YEARS OF BEING A POW ON ANYONE." THE AUTHOR CLOSES HIS LETTER WITH THE LINES, "THEY GAVE ME THIS DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross Medal]. / BUT I DIDN'T EARN IT. / YOU GUYS DID AND THEN SOME. / IT'S YOURS." COMPONENT (B) U.S. MILITARY MEDAL (FULL SIZE). MILITARY ISSUE, DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS MEDAL, FULL COLOR. THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE MEDAL CONSISTS OF A BRONZE CROSS PATEE UPON WHICH IS SUPERIMPOSED IN RAISED RELIEF A FOUR (4)-BLADED AIRPLANE PROPELLER, WHILE THE FIVE (5) RAYS EXTENDED FROM THE REENTRANT ANGLES FORM A SQUARE. THE MEDAL IS SUSPENDED FROM THE MEDAL RIBBON VIA A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED BAR, WHILE THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE MEDAL REMAINS BLANK AND UNADORNED. THE MEDAL IS SUSPENDED FROM A NYLON FABRIC OBJECT RIBBON CONSISTING OF ALTERNATING, VERTICAL ULTRAMARINE BLUE, WHITE, AND OLD GLORY RED STRIPES. THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS WAS ESTABLISHED IN THE AIR CORPS ACT (ACT OF CONGRESS, 2 JULY 1926, PUBLIC LAW NO. 446, 69TH CONGRESS). THIS ACT PROVIDED FOR AWARD, "TO ANY PERSON, WHILE SERVING IN ANY CAPACITY WITH THE AIR CORPS OF THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING THE NATIONAL GUARD AND THE ORGANIZED RESERVES, OR WITH THE UNITED STATES NAVY, SINCE THE 6TH DAY OF APRIL 1917, HAS DISTINGUISHED, OR WHO, AFTER THE APPROVAL OF THIS ACT, DISTINGUISHES HIMSELF BY HEROISM OR EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT WHILE PARTICIPATING IN AERIAL FLIGHT." INITIAL AWARDS OF THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS WERE MADE TO PERSONS WHO MADE RECORD BREAKING LONG DISTANCE AND ENDURANCE FLIGHTS AND WHO SET ALTITUDE RECORDS. THE SECRETARY OF WAR AUTHORIZED THE FIRST DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS TO CAPTAIN CHARLES A. LINDBERGH IN A LETTER DATED 31 MAY 1927. WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR, THE WRIGHT BROTHERS RETROACTIVELY RECEIVED THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS. THIS AWARD REQUIRED A SPECIAL ACT OF CONGRESS, SINCE THE LAW PRECLUDED AWARD TO CIVILIANS. THE MEDAL IS PRESENTLY AFFIXED TO THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNERS OF THE TWO (2) PAPER SHEETS COMPRISING COMPONENT (A) VIA A SINGLE PIN/CLASP BACKING AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. (SOURCE: THE INSTITUTE OF HERALDRY- HTTP://WWW.TIOH.HQDA.PENTAGON.MIL)
Text of the handwritten inscriptions upon the obverse object surfaces of the two (2) sheets comprising COMPONENT (A) is transcribed in full, as follows: [COMPONENT (A), page 1, obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "18 Feb '90 / Joe Matejov / Todd Melton / And the rest of the crew of "Baron 52" - / Sorry I can't remember all your names. / It's been such a long time. / I can't help but think that I should have done something. / I had the duty that night and maybe there was something I missed. / Something I could have done to get the SAR [search & rescue] forces working sooner or something. / We all thought you were dead. / That's what they told us. / I didn't find out they'd changed your status til [sic] just a few years ago. / But I haven't stopped thinking about you all for 17 years. / Part of me hopes your [sic] still alive and yet I wouldn't wish 17 years of being a POW on anyone. / They gave me this DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross Medal]. But I [...]" / [COMPONENT (A), page 2, obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "[...] didn't earn it. / You guys did and then some. / It's yours. / Bob "Kaiser" Wilhelm"
Item Weight: 35.6g (Collective weight of COMPONENTS (A & B))
Item Length: 26.6cm
Item Width: 20.2cm