by Doug Bradley, a Madison-based Vietnam veteran and former Army journalist and author of “DEROS Vietnam: Dispatches from the Air-Conditioned Jungle”
Panel W5 Line 104.
A name, like others, that we wish wasn’t there on the gabbro wall in Washington, D. C.
But it is: Stephen H. Warner.
Guys like Steve Warner weren’t supposed to get killed in Vietnam. He and I were meant to spend our 365 days in the rear, working in a safe, public information office at U.S. Army headquarters at Long Binh, 15 miles from Saigon. We were Army journalists, not infantrymen. There was no requirement that we accompany troops into combat.
Unless you were Steve Warner.
While the rest of us stayed put in the rear, Steve, who was drafted in June 1969 after his first year of law school at Yale, took every occasion to go out into the countryside and see exactly what was going on. While out there, he made a point of interviewing, photographing and connecting with the GIs who were doing the fighting and dying.
Stephen H. Warner was killed in an ambush near the Laotian border on February 14, 1971. He didn’t have to be there. He wasn’t supposed to be killed.
As good a photographer as he was, Steve didn’t take photos of himself, so three years ago, on the anniversary of his death, I set out to write about Steve and post some photos of him. I wanted there to be a face beside his name. I was able to find a photo of Steve, but there are more than 58,000 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. that have their own story to tell.
Over the past several years, volunteers throughout Wisconsin have joined A Face for Every Name, an effort to locate a photo of every one of the 1,244 Wisconsin names listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The images will become part of the “Wall of Faces,” a lasting tribute planned for the Vietnam Memorial Education Center to be located near the National Mall.
Thanks to these incredible volunteers, more than 1,000 photos have been found –including more than 200 in the past year — but there is still more work to be done. A Face for Every Name needs your help. This newspaper, as a member of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, has joined the effort spearheaded by Wisconsin’s Public Broadcasters. Learn more and volunteer at www.wpr.org/veterans.
As we approach Veterans Day, I urge you to join with others to help place a face with these names and ensure that veterans like Steve Warner are remembered for who they were, not just as a name etched on a piece of stone in D.C.