A People magazine story last November started a series of events that led to a couple leaving Stewartsville, Mo., so they could be in Washington, D.C., today.
Retired Col. Glen Dyer, U.S. Marine Corps, will read the names of 30 soldiers who died during the Vietnam War as part of a special memorial event in the capitol.
For four days, people are reading all 58,282 names etched into the black granite of the Vietnam War Memorial, said Leslie Dyer, who nominated her husband to be part of the event.
One of the 30 names the colonel will read has special meaning for the couple: 2nd Lt. Frederick Dyer, the colonel's brother.
Frederick Dyer served as a forward artillery observer with a Marine platoon from Mike Company, Third Battalion, 3rd Regiment of the Third Division. They'd been station several miles south of Kon Tum, Vietnam, on July 2, 1968. The lieutenant died in a firefight late in the afternoon. It was his 63rd day in country.
During his Vietnam tour, Glen Dyer flew a chubby Sikorsky CH-34 Seahorse helicopter. On the morning of July 3, then 1st. Lt. Glenn Dyer was assigned to fly relief missions to Kah Sahn but was diverted to a forward outpost, Kon Tum, to pickup some Marines.
"I remember that day," Mr. Dyer told the News-Press.
But it wouldn't be until 2002 that he really knew what he'd done on that day. That's when the colonel read John Kelly's DMZ Diary, "A Combat Marine's Vietnam Memoir." Mr. Kelly described in the book how, on July 3, the 1st Lieutenant picked up the Marines and a body wrapped in a plastic poncho. The body was his brother's.
"Until reading Mr. Kelly's book, I had no idea that that had happened," the Colonel said. "Maybe I blocked it out."
The brothers knew that each was in Vietnam but hadn't seen each other for about a month. Mr. Dyer remembers calling his brother on the evening of July 3, 1968.
That's when the battalion commander told Mr. Dyer his brother was dead.
"They authorized me to be the escort and take his body stateside," Mr. Dyer said.
Now 44 years later, the couple are also taking pictures of the 2nd Lieutenant, taken in Vietnam, with them. They're going to donate them to the memorial.
Jan Scruggs, the memorial founder and president, wants to add further meaning to the 58,282 names etched in the stone. An effort is under way to collect photographs showing each of those individuals. An education center has been built near the memorial. In addition to photographs, it will display mementos left at the wall.