Update: LOST SOLDIERS Ceremony 26 October 2019
JIM WEBB SUMMARY
LOST SOLDIERS CEREMONY 26 October 2019
We would like to provide a summary of the ceremony and interment events that will take place on 26 October at Freedom Park and in the nearby Westminster Cemetery in Orange County, California.
The general public is invited and encouraged to attend. A large crowd is expected. Unfortunately there will be limited seating, available only to pre-registered VIP and handicapped visitors.
A media section will be reserved near the Eternal Flame area of the park. Media representatives are asked to pre-register with Lost Soldiers Foundation in order to gain access to the media section and to request possible interviews.
The Freedom Park ceremony will begin promptly at 9:00 AM. Seating will be available beginning at 8:15. The hearse bearing the remains of the 81 ARVN soldiers will arrive at 8:45. The casket will promptly be escorted from the hearse to the Eternal Flame area by an honor guard of former ARVN soldiers.
There will then follow traditional formalities such as the presentation of colors, the singing of national anthems by a Vietnamese-American chorus, a wreath laying accompanied by a uniformed bagpiper, and a three-volley rifle salute followed by a bugler playing “Taps,” both performed by a contingent of United States Marines. These formalities will intermix throughout the speaking program.
We are pleased to announce that the speaking program will include:
Westminster Mayor Tri Ta, a highly respected political leader in Orange County political circles, whose father was incarcerated in communist re-education camps after the fall of South Vietnam and whose family immigrated to the United States in 1989.
U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, who served as a Marine Corps helicopter pilot before pursuing a successful business career. Secretary Spencer was a key supporter of this project during sensitive negotiations inside the Department of Defense.
Mr. Fred Smith, who served with great distinction as a Marine Corps infantry officer in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam before creating and becoming Chairman of the internationally successful company Federal Express. Mr. Smith has been a strong supporter of veteran projects for many years and provided crucial financial support for the Lost Soldiers Foundation.
Mr. Phan Nhat Nam, who served as an Airborne officer in the same battalion as the 81 lost ARVN soldiers, after which he became South Vietnam’s most famous war reporter. Widely respected for his honesty and integrity, in 1973 he was South Vietnam’s Secretary for the Joint Military Committee during the Paris Agreements, which was responsible for negotiating the release of American POW’s. After the fall of South Vietnam he himself was imprisoned for 14 years in communist re-education camps, often in solitary confinement.
Dr. Hiep Nguyen, President of the Gia Dinh Mu Do (family of the red berets), the organization representing former soldiers who served in the ARVN Airborne.
Following this ceremony, the casket will be reloaded onto the hearse and there will be a one-mile procession to the Westminster Cemetery. A brief, traditional military service will take place at the cemetery, followed by the interment of the casket bearing the remains of the 81 Airborne soldiers.
We are very proud and grateful that the resting place of these soldiers will be near an existing memorial that honors and remembers the journey of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese “Boat People,” who risked rape, robbery and often death on the open seas after the fall of South Vietnam in order to pursue a life of freedom here in the United States.