Tuesday, December 27, 2016


I read an article in the Exeter News Letter abouth the refusal of the Board of Selectmen to allow a POW Flag to be flown at their Veterans Park (a park that was designed and built by Pete Wiggin) so I gave Pete a call to find out what was going on and this is his unedited reply.  I am going to comment on this in a second blog; but, these are the facts.


It was good talking with you the other day. I am forwarding the answer to your question regarding what my "Impassioned Stand" consisted of in the news story which occurred in the December 23rd article in the Exeter Newsletter entitled, "Selectmen stand by decision not to fly MIA/POW flag".

I thought it best to forward this in a simplified bullet format for ease and clarity of understanding regarding the controversy.

A follow up story specific to the veterans concerns is to occur in the Exeter Newsletter following my filing of the Citizens Petition with the Town of Stratham. That should occur in the next week or two.

Editor Paul Dietterle has assured me that reporter Allyson Johnson will be able to complete her previous reporting which was considerably edited due to the Exeter Newsletters privacy concerns for the veteran interviewed.

Following are the subjects I talked about at the meeting :

I spoke specifically to the issues related to ALL those men and women listed as Missing In Action MIA.

I did this with the permission of, materials and information given me by two Veterans of the Vietnam War. One a resident of the town the other a non resident. I emphasized the importance of the Stratham Veterans Memorial to ALL veterans who have sacrificed in so many ways for our country.

I appeared at this meeting for the sole purpose of representing these two combat soldiers and their concerns.

The non resident Veteran had given me a letter to present to the Selectmen expressing his thoughts and concerns. This I did. I also described to them his personal experience on the field of battle, described in the letter, which he felt necessitated his involvement as a non resident with the controversy here in Stratham.

He also gifted me a South Vietnamese flag in recognition of my past efforts for this cause. This I exhibited to the Selectmen. None could identify it so I explained its importance to them.

The resident Veteran, a former Marine who served with the 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion in Vietnam was actually present that night and spoke with the reporter separate from my presentation. It is that interview which I understand will make up the follow up story following my filing of the Citizens Petition.

He had previously supplied me with a five page list of his Battalions casualty statistics. These I presented to the Selectmen.

The list included those Killed in Action (KIA). Two Hundred and Twenty-Three men.

The list included those Killed in Action, Bodies Never Recovered (KIA) (BNR). Twenty-Nine men.

I followed up this presentation with the most recently released statistics from Washington of those listed as Missing in Action (MIA) for the individual wars. They are as follows :

World War I, 3,344. World War II, 78,503. The Korean War 8,032. The Vietnam War 1,651.

The total for these wars is Ninety-One Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty (91,530) presently listed as Missing In Action.

I then made an Impassioned Plea in hopes that this NEW information supplied by me to them and these numbers might have some impact on their former decision to NOT fly the POW-MIA flag within the Veterans Memorial. I explained how important the POW-MIA flag was to ALL veterans such as these and their families whose most iconic symbol, acknowledged nationally, is that flag.

My plea fell on deaf ears. As the article describes, all three now stand by the previous decision to not fly the POW-MIA flag on the single pole within the memorial.

At the conclusion of this meeting and its reporting, my 'Letter to the Editor' which also appears in the December 23rd issue now stands as much more representative of the contrasting views and facts related to this issue.

As such, it is not surprising that the resident veteran has requested of me that his brick be removed from the memorial. He feels that he can not with clear conscience be represented within a memorial that fails to represent the ultimate sacrifices of his Brothers. Many of who remain still, Missing In Action on the field of battle. In this I support him 100%.

It is my understanding that the resident Veteran has supplied additional information to the Exeter Newsletter as well as a letter from the town dated January 12, 2011 which will add significantly to the overall understanding and background of this most narrowest of views expressed by the Selectmen. I believe that this information will be well described in the follow up article by the Exeter Newsletter.

I'll leave it here for now. All the best and Happy New Year !

PS Lee, I am forwarding a copy of this, (exclusive of your contact info.) to the ENL, Union Leader Veterans Bureau and Tom of the Families of POW-