Name added to Vietnam Memorial helps family heal old wounds





It was 40 years ago this summer that U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Enrique Valdez was nearly killed by shrapnel in Vietnam and 15 years ago that he died from wounds suffered that August in 1969.

His name is the latest on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, added to "The Wall" on Tuesday, after the Defense Department concluded that his status matched the criteria to be included on the panels.

After being wounded in Vietnam at the age of 32, Valdez spent the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. The shrapnel had cut his spinal cord. When he died of pneumonia in 1994, bureaucratic delays seemed to rule out that he might be recognized for his service to the country.

His family worked for years to have his name added to the memorial, and the notification finally came -- but without explanation from the Defense Department.




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