Connections at The Wall

Mothers Day held special meaning on Sunday as we honored the 10 names added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial this year and also the 12 status changes.

Many of the families traveled from across the country to honor their fallen heroes whose names are now etched in black granite.

Some knew each other because they’d worked together to get the names added to The Wall, like Jay Aubin and John Linzy. Their fathers were both added this year.

Some had not had contact in years, like John Linzy and his cousin Laverne Gadeken. They’d lost touch over the years, living in different states.

But on Sunday, they reconnected and swapped stories and photos of their loved one who had been lost during the Vietnam War.

They walked together to find the newly etched name and made plans to stay in touch.

Lt. Walter Allan Linzy joined the U.S. Navy during World War II as a seaman recruit. He rose through the enlisted ranks to master chief petty officer, continued through the four warrant officer ranks that existed at the time and then took a commission as a limited duty officer and was on the list to become a lieutenant commander when he bailed out over the South China Sea.

“Dad was a square shooter, as reliable and dependable and career oriented as they get,” said Al Linzy, Walter Linzy’s oldest son. “As a military man myself, I am particularly cognizant of his accomplishments. It illustrates his strength of character.”

Walter Linzy lied about his age to enlist at 16-years-old. He served in Europe, the North Atlantic and the Pacific during WWII, served in Korea and was killed during Vietnam. Al Linzy turned 16 on May 1, 1966. His father went missing on May 26, 1966. The next year, Al Linzy enlisted and also served in Vietnam.

During the assignment in the Philippines, Linzy was pulled onto an emergency mission in response to unusual activity happening in Vietnam. One of the unit’s aircraft was down so VQ-2 was tasked with the mission. The aircraft encountered a typhoon and severe turbulence and a rare double flame-out of both engines at 15,000-18,000 feet, losing all instruments. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out and Linzy, along with crewmates ATR3 Richard Hunt, ATR3 Richard Stocker and ATC Joseph Aubin bailed out. Stocker’s body was recovered on May 31, 1966. Linzy’s life vest was found with a note he had written on it: “We are in the water and OK.” The other three crewmen were never recovered. The plane captain froze and refused to bail out, blocking the navigators escape. The pilot was able to restart the engines near 8,000 feet, pull the navigator and captain back to their seats and return to Cubi Point.

These men will be honored again during the national Memorial Day ceremony at The Wall. Their photos and their stories, along with those of all 58,282 names on the memorial, will also be housed in the Education Center at The Wall It will be a place where our military heroes’ stories and sacrifice will be honored. Many Americans weren’t alive during the Vietnam War and we must do more to educate current and future generations about the war these heroes fought and also the lives they lived. They fought for us and now we must do our part to ensure they are never forgotten.