homepage logo

853 Iowans On The Wall

By Staff | Sep 11, 2012

“Hello — I am a Vietnam Veteran and I am asking for your help to find a photo of all the Fallen Iowa Vietnam Soldiers. These pictures will go to the Education Center that is going to be built near the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.”

That’s the opening paragraph of the letter from Thomas Brickman. He was asking the newspaper to help spread the word that pictures are needed of Fallen Iowa Vietnam Soldiers. To date, 375 photos out of 853 Iowans have been located. Let’s add one more.

The names of Galen Dean Grethen and Gary Wayne Weir are etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. Both are from Emmetsburg.

Galen Grethen, PFC?Army

Feb. 17, 1943 to April 16, 1966

Gary Weir, PFC?Marine Corps

April 24, 1949, to Oct. 27, 1968

Visiting with Barbara Weir Berkland, she had become aware of the call for photos. The photo and information for Gary Weir are now on their way. From the information sent by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, information and a photo of Galen Grethen are already on file.

A news release from The Education Center at The Wall accompanied Brickman’s letter. Here is a portion:

“Shari Kirkpatrick’s father made it home from Vietnam. But many others from her state did not. She has now made it her mission to collect a photo of each of the Iowans named on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on othe National Mall.”

For Kirkpatrick, the project started when The Wall That Heals (TWTH) stopped in Washington, IA. She went to see it with one of her sons and her parents. Her father, Thomas R. Brickman, served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. He had been drafted into the Army from Bremer County, Iowa.

“My dad has talked a little bit about Vietnam over the years and we have visited The Wall?That Heals before, but it was just different this time,” Shari said.

Her father and other veterans swapped stories at the site. While searching the computer database for information about Iowa veterans, Thomas Brickman and Bob Dobeck talked about the Call For Photos initiative to collect photos of each of the 58,282 names etched on The Wall in Washington, D.C. The photos are to be placed in the Education Center at The Wall, being built across the street.

Shari decided to get involved and help collect the photos from Iowa. She and her parents launched a campaign to collect the photos and have been reaching out statewide to accomplish their goal.

“I want to accomplish this mission as it is the ultimate gift I could give my Dad, veterans and families and friends of the soldiers,” Shari said.