Illinois State Senator’s Family Reuniting Corpus Christi Area Veteran with Lost Vietnam Dog Tag and Former Combat Platoon Member

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The family of Illinois State Senator Peter Roskam will be reuniting Corpus Christi area Vietnam veteran Rueben Diaz with his lost Vietnam dog tag along with one of his fellow Vietnam veterans in a ceremony on Wednesday, June 21st 2006.

The family of Illinois State Senator Peter Roskam will be reuniting Corpus Christi area Vietnam veteran Rueben Diaz with his lost Vietnam dog tag along with one of his fellow Vietnam veterans in a ceremony on Wednesday, June 21st 2006.    

Along with nearly two and a half million other Americans who served his country with distinction during the Vietnam War, Mr. Diaz was taken by complete surprise when advised by VA officials that one of his dog tags had been recovered. Mr. Diaz joined the Marines in 1969 and was discharged in 1972. He served with the First Marine Division as a Radio operator in Vietnam from 1970-1971. When told that the tag would be returned in a ceremony at his former home, Corpus Christi, Texas, Mr. Diaz asked if one of his former Platoon Members could be with him at the ceremony. VA officials are making arrangements for Mr. Frank Garcia of Corpus Christi to attend. Their paths have not crossed since they rotated home in 1971.

What began as business trip to Ho Chi Minh City in August 2001 has become a mission and an emotional journey for V.R. (Swede) and Martha Roskam. While shopping for old coins for their grandchildren, in a crowded marketplace of Old Saigon, Mrs. Roskam noticed American military dog tags being sold by a street vendor. Initially, she passed them by. Her husband, a Korean War veteran, was offended that ID’s were being treated as trinkets and encouraged her to go back and buy them. She purchased all 37 dog tags for $20.00. “Martha could have paid $500.00 for them,” Swede said. “They should not have been left in some alley half way around the world. It’s a matter of honor.”

Bringing the battered metal rectangles back to the United States, the Wheaton residents discussed their findings and the next steps with their son Peter Roskam, an Illinois State Senator. Swede and Martha turned their relics over to their Senator son Peter in hopes that he could set a process in motion that would allow them to return the tags to their proper owners. “We knew that Peter would do his best to see that the tags were returned either to the veteran or to the next of kin if deceased.” Martha Roskam said. “If we had lost a son, I would want anything that would honor his memory.”

Senator Roskam immediately went to work to try to ascertain the authenticity of the recovered items. He contacted the Bureau of Records, St. Louis, MO, that is the custodian of military records to search for matches between names and numbers engraved on the tags. What he found was encouraging and eerily poignant. “You can feel the weight of history when you hold these in your hands” the Senator said. “Those who are hawking the tags as souvenirs have no idea what they represent to those who have no idea they still exist.”

For the last several years the Roskams have spent countless hours locating the rightful owners of the missing dog tags and have a website dedicated for the cause http://www.roskamdogtag.com . Mr. Diaz’s tag will be the 21st dog tag that the Roskams have returned and is the Roskam’s way of saying thank you for these veteran’s courageous contributions to our national freedom.

Although it has been three decades since the United States ended its involvement in Vietnam, the 58,226 names on the 493 foot black marble memorial in Washington DC are a constant reminder of the ongoing agony associated with that conflict. Black MIA flags, banners and bumpers stickers that punctuate communities across the nation call to mind that Vietnam is still an unfinished chapter in the communal life of Americans. To those chilling reminders add these unclaimed dog tags and help us find the remaining individuals or families that we have yet to locate.

WE NEED HELP IN LOCATING THESE VETERANS OR THEIR FAMILY

Fields, Larry E.Killed In Action    

(Son) Larry M. Fields

Joyce Nacarato (ex-wife or mother?)    

Dates of service - January 19, 1966 to July 14, 1967

Goff, Larry G.    

Dates of service - October 6, 1967 to January 19, 1969

Parker, Danny R. (Dannie R.)    

Dates of service - April 8, 1971 to April 6, 1973

Ryther, K.E.    

Dates of service - August 18, 1965 to July 15, 1969

Viley, William L.    

Dates of service - February 25, 1970 to December 5, 1975

Wilkins, R.L. (Robert Lee)    

Dates of service - December 30, 1968 to July 11, 1970

The ceremony for Mr. Rueben Diaz will be held, Wednesday, June 21st at 7:00 pm.

Location: American Legion Post Number 364, 5323 Kostoryz Road, Corpus Christi, TX. 78415

Local Commander: Mr. Paublo Garza

Phone 361—233-9985

For Further Information Contact:

Mrs. Martha Roskam

Phone: 630/870-4124

Fax: 630/871-4123

http://www.roskamdogtag.com

State Senator Peter Roskam’s Wheaton Office

Phone: 630/690-4500

Fax: 630/690-4505

Corpus Christi Contact:

Mr. Curtis Starling

Public Affairs Officer

Corpus Christi VA Medical Center

Phone: 361-806-5600

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