Illinois State Senator’s Family Returning Dog Tag Of Vietnam Troop Killed In Action To Surviving Son

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The family of Illinois State Senator Peter Roskam will be returning the missing dog tag of a fallen Vietnam soldier to his son and family in a ceremony in Lorain, Ohio on Thursday, October 26th.

The family of Illinois State Senator Peter Roskam will be returning the missing dog tag of a fallen Vietnam soldier to his son and family in a ceremony in Lorain, Ohio on Thursday, October 26th.

Ohio Marine Lance Corporal Larry Edward Fields was killed by a booby trap in Vietnam in 1967 with just 40 days left before he was scheduled to return home. After exhaustive searching and the help of friends, acquaintances, and the Internet, the Roskams have located Lance Corporal Field’s surviving son, Larry M. Fields of Vermilion, OH along with the four grandchildren he never had the chance to know.

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,” Roskam 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. Field’s tag will be the 29th dog tag that the Roskams have returned and is their 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.

WE NEED HELP IN LOCATING ONE LAST VETERAN

Name    Known Information    As of    Service Date

Goff, Larry G.    Minneapolis, Mn     2001    October 6, 1967 to January 19, 1969 Entered military service from Tetford, PA

The ceremony for Mr. Larry E. Fields will be held, Thursday, October 26th at 11:30 a.m.

Location: Lorain Community Based Outpatient Clinic, 205 West 20th St, Lorain Ohio 44052

For Further Information Contact:

Chuck Bonacci

440-526-3030 ext 6720

or

Mrs. Martha Roskam

Phone: 630/870-4124

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