Scot Walker '90 May 15, 2017 9:22 AM updated: May 15, 2017 5:18 PM
The names of three U.S. servicemen killed in Vietnam or who died as a result of their service there were added to the Vietnam Memorial Wall on May 2, including Texas A&M graduate John T. Whitson '66.
Whitson, who was born in the Trinity community in Trinity County, was a member of Company C-1 of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. He graduated in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in wildlife science.
He arrived in Vietnam on Sept. 8, 1968, as a U.S. Army sergeant. On Feb. 19, 1969, he was admitted to a hospital in Vietnam with an illness, and in March he was transferred back to the United States for continued treatment. He passed away on April 4, 1969, while still hospitalized.
Construction of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., was completed in 1982. The process for determining eligibility for inscription on the Vietnam Memorial Wall is complex and the rules are complicated, and the U.S. Department of Defense initially declined to include Whitson's name.
In 1987, Whitson’s mother began a quest to have her her son’s name added to the Wall. It took almost 30 years, but in late 2016, the Department of Defense ordered that Whitson's name be added after the Army Surgeon General provided an opinion that Whitson's death met current criteria for eligibility because he died within 120 days of returning from Vietnam of a disease diagnosed in Vietnam.
The work was completed this month and "JOHN T WHITSON" is now inscribed on Panel 32W, Line 58, of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Unfortunately, Whitson's mother did not live to see it, as she passed away in 2001.
The addition of Whitson's name, along with two others, Cpl. Kenneth R. McGuire and Sgt. Edward Wilmers, brings the number of inscribed names to 58,318.
The three additions will be recognized during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s annual Memorial Day Observance at The Wall on May 29. The families of the three names that have been inscribed will also be recognized during the ceremony. Details of that ceremony can be found at www.vvmf.org/2017-memorial-day-rsvp.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was created in 1979 to design and construct the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The memorial was turned over the National Park Service in 1984, but the VVMF still maintains the memorial and retains the responsibility to add names as directed by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Additional names are added to The Wall each year to fix clerical errors,
Read more about the process of adding the three names at https://vvmf.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/three-names-added-to-the-wall-in-2017/.