Wareham Vietnam vet to be honored posthumously today | MassCops

Wareham Vietnam vet to be honored posthumously today

Discussion in 'Military News' started by kwflatbed, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    PHOTO PETER PEREIRA/The Standard-Times ++ Priscilla Vining visits the gravesite of her husband Francis E. Vining, a Marine who died in 2005 and will be honored in Washington DC on Monday. St. Patricks cemetary Wareham.

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    April 20, 2009 6:00 AM

    WAREHAM — When Dick Duffy first met Francis E. Vining Jr. in the late 1980s, he saw an intimidating man — 6 foot 2, 220 pounds and extremely tight-lipped about his experiences as a gunnery sergeant with the Marines in Vietnam.
    And when Duffy, a history teacher at Tabor Academy, first approached Vining one Sunday after Mass at St. Patrick's Church in Wareham, asking if Vining would be willing to share with Tabor students stories of his three tours of duty, he quickly was rebuffed.
    But over time, Vining softened, at first grudgingly agreeing to speak to students, and later, actually looking forward to the talks he delivered each semester. Duffy believed that the talks were therapeutic for the retired Marine, who "had six tanks blown out from under him," took an AK-47 shot to the face, was exposed to Agent Orange and once had to give combat orders to a relative, which led to the man's death.
    Occasionally, there were lighter stories, such as the time his unit submitted its pet monkey for a Purple Heart. The commanding officer came down to present the award himself, looking in vain for a soldier while Vining and the rest of his unit tried not to laugh.
    "The major was not pleased that he had a Purple Heart for the monkey," Duffy said.
    Vining, whom Duffy affectionately called "Gunny" after his military rank, spoke to the Tabor students for 15 years, until his death in 2005.

    "He was just a real inspiration to the kids," Duffy said.
    But the years of talks also led Duffy to realize that Vining was a true hero. When he found out about the In Memory Program, which honors veterans who died prematurely from noncombat injuries and emotional suffering caused directly by the Vietnam War, he knew that Vining deserved to be honored.
    Vining's widow, Priscilla, said her husband, who was 65 when he died, had diabetes, colon cancer and respiratory problems that had been caused or worsened because of his exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military in Vietnam.
    "They just sprayed the jungle with it," she said.
    According to Priscilla, Vining received three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and several other awards during his tours of duty, which took place from 1960 until around 1966. A couple of friends credit him with saving their lives, she said.
    After months of petitioning "the powers that be," Duffy said, he was successful in getting Vining into the In Memory Program, which has recognized more than 1,800 individuals to date.

    Today, 123 Americans, including Vining, will be honored posthumously at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., for the 11th annual In Memory Day.
    Department of Defense rules do not qualify these individuals to have their names on The Wall, because their deaths were not due to wounds suffered in combat zones. But in a ceremony, loved ones will read their names, and tributes to them will be placed at The Wall.
    According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which sponsors the program, In Memory Day purposely coincides with Patriots Day, which commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord at the start of the Revolutionary War.
    More than 1,000 family members and friends are expected to gather for the ceremony. To honor Vining, Duffy will be there, as will Vining's widow; her daughter, Holly Deckler; her son, Robert Edwards, and his wife, Karen; and three grandsons, Jackson, 8, Kai, 6 and Benjamin, 22.
    Vining and Priscilla married in 1983, three years after he retired from the service, and worked as a tool and die maker until he retired. Vining, who grew up in Charlestown, was a fixture at the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick's Church and was a member of the American Legion in Wareham and the Benjamin Cushing Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Marion.
    "Once he retired from traveling all over the world he really was a home guy. He loved his home and his dog," Priscilla said. "Big Marine ... you think rough and tough. But really, he had a soft heart."

    SouthCoastToday.com: Wareham Vietnam vet to be honored posthumously today
  2. LGriffin

    LGriffin Always Watching

  3. OfficerObie59

    OfficerObie59 Public Trough Feeder

    Any time I feel pissed off with the small things in life, I remember that there are those that made sacrifices beyoned my wildest comprehension. A story like this just reinforces that.
  4. justanotherparatrooper

    justanotherparatrooper Pissin' in liberals cheerio's for 40 years :) Staff Member

    What an amazing man.

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