Three names added to The Wall in 2017


Each spring, VVMF works with the Department of Defense (DOD) to ensure that The Wall is accurate. When MIAs are recovered in Vietnam or when an appeal has been approved for addition to The Wall, VVMF makes the appropriate changes. On May 2, 2017 three new names took their rightful place among their fallen brothers and sisters.  Each year, new names are added to The Wall to fix clerical errors and mistakes, and to honor those veterans who died as a direct result of their wounds sustained while in Vietnam.

When names are added, a highly technical process is required. Precise measurements must be made to ensure letters are lined up, have the right width and are etched into the granite to a depth that matches the etchings already on the memorial. The letters are burned into The Wall as a dust-free sand blasting apparatus is passed over it. The physical work of adding the names and changing statuses is performed by James Lee of the Colorado-based company, Engrave Write.

The Department of Defense (DoD) sets the criteria for and makes decisions about whose names are eligible for inscription on The Wall. VVMF pays for the name additions and status changes and works with the National Park Service (NPS) to ensure long-term preservation and maintenance of The Wall.

2017 Name Additions include:

IMG_6196CPL KENNETH R MCGUIRE – Panel 34W Line 42

US Marine Corps CPL Kenneth McGuire was wounded (for the third time) in action on September 20, 1968 from a gunshot wound to the right arm. He was evacuated to a hospital in Okinawa, Japan where he died on September 28, 1968. His sister, Kathleen Heglund, began working with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (WI) office to get his name added in 2016.

IMG_6255SGT JOHN T WHITSON – Panel 32W Line 58

US Army SGT John Whitson arrived in Vietnam on September 8, 1968. On February 19, 1969 he was admitted to a hospital in Vietnam and placed on the seriously injured list a month later. On March 28, 1969 he was transferred to Fort Hood, TX where he died on April 4, 1969. SGT Whitson’s mother began her quest to add her son’s name to The Wall in 1987 with Senator Phil Gramm (TX).


signal-2017-05-02-182803SGT EDWARD L WILMERS – Panel 62E Line 7
US Army SGT Edward Wilmers was seriously wounded by metal fragments to the head on May 17, 1968. After evacuation and multiple surgeries, it was determined the quadriplegia and other symptoms were irreversible, and he was medically retired by the Army on December 23, 1968 and transferred to a VA hospital. SGT Wilmers later died of complications due to his quadriplegia. His family petitioned the Army in 2015 for his inclusion on The Wall.


The name additions and status changes will be recognized during VVMF’s annual Memorial Day Observance at The Wall on May 29, 2017 and the number of names on The Wall will be formally changed to 58,318.

Learn about adding a name to The Wall by clicking here.