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