Vietnam vet’s name added to Washington memorial
WASHINGTON ” Tina Valdez and her family have worked for more than a dozen years to pay special tribute to her Vietnam veteran father.
The Santa Fe, N.M., native’s father, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Enrique Valdez, is the latest addition to the names inscribed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington. On Monday, the National Park Service and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund will honor him during a ceremony commemorating Memorial Day.
“It means a great deal,” the 44-year-old Valdez said. “It’s a lasting tribute to my father.”
Enrique Valdez served two tours in Vietnam and was wounded on Aug. 26, 1969. A piece of shrapnel severed his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down, his daughter said. He died in 1994 at age 56.
“If my father had to do it all over, he would do it again,” Valdez said. “He was proud to serve his country.”
The younger Valdez said her father’s death was attributed to his war injuries, which is part of the criteria for being added to the wall. But she said it took years before the military finally honored her family’s request that he be included at the memorial. The addition will bring the number of names on the wall to 58,261.
The Marine spirit of determination fueled the family’s efforts, she said.
“I think my father would be proud to know what he instilled in us we took to heart, we persevered,” Tina Valdez said.