To the Editor:
It was the windiest day I have seen in many years. The wind was howling at 30 to 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 50. Why is it that I mention this? It was April 3, 1972 when Douglas L. O’Neill and three other crewmen were shot down in Vietnam, and that was some 44 years ago. We continue to remember Doug on, or close to that day every year, and this year was no different. Members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 151, John Zmyslowski, Tom Gradkiewicz, Harold Spann, Mike Wilson, Mike Cruden and Jo Ann Northgrave (The County Veterans Coordinator) were at Doug’s remembrance tree at 39th street and the Boulevard to honor and remember Doug on this cold and windy day; there were no others, just us few.
As we stood rendering honors to Doug the thought came up if we should continue to hold this annual vigil to remember him. It appears that the few of us who were there are the only ones who really care. No veterans from any other post or chapter, no city officials, no citizens, although, a couple of people stopped and asked what we were there for, but they soon left.
I want to thank my brothers and Jo Ann Northgrave for being there and caring on that cold windy day. We just want Doug’s family to know that there are still a few veterans who remember him.
Even though Doug now has a memorial grave marker at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, we do not want to forget him.
As we enter next year we will decide whether to continue to hold this vigil or do some short ceremony to honor and remember Douglas Lee O’Neill as Hudson County’s only MIA from the Vietnam War.
VVA Chapter 151