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Vietnam War memorial updated with names of local fallen soldiers

The Court of Honor at the downtown Soldiers Memorial was updated to include 254 new names of local soldiers

ST. LOUIS — Hundreds of people gathered at the Soldiers Memorial in downtown St. Louis on Monday morning to pay respects to fallen soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Gold Star families and military veterans read aloud the names of each fallen soldier etched in stone during a moving ceremony.

That list of names was longer this year than it has been in decades, thanks in part to ongoing nationwide efforts to trace the war dead back to their home of origin.

"The memorial was dedicated in 1979, not long after the war, and they did their best to find the names that they could," Soldiers Memorial Military Museum Director Mark Sundlov said. "Today is really emotional and it's long overdue."

Vernon Brewer was a Sky Soldier, a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and drove from New York to St. Louis to see the name of one of his fellow soldiers unveiled.  

"We left a platoon on top of a hill in Phu Yen province on Nov. 5, 1968," Brewer recalled.

That's the day Lloyd Greene was killed. 

"There's 28 guys in my company that died when I was there," Brewer said.

He said he travels the country to visit each of their graves in person, but when he first learned about Soldiers Memorial in St. Louis, he was afraid Greene's name had been forgotten. 

"I wrote sort of a heated letter," he said. 

Before the list of names was updated, organizers had relied on old news clippings or reports from local veterans organizations to assemble the names, leading to several omissions. 

Brewer was delighted to see Greene's name added to the memorial. 

He spoke about Greene's death as if it was a fresh memory. 

"It never fades," he said. "And you could talk to any combat vet from any war. It does not go away. It doesn't wash off. It doesn't get old. It doesn't get wrinkled like we do. And our hair turns white. 

"Greene is 18 forever. But he's finally on the wall. You know, his town knows that he did something good. And that's enough for me."

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