A wall with more than 58,000 names carved into the surface may not seem to change much when another name is added. However, getting those names added means everything for the families of the service members they represent.
On May 4 the names of three Marines, Lance Cpl. John E. Granville, Lance Cpl. Clayton K. Hough Jr. and Cpl. Ronald M. Vivona, and three soldiers, Capt. Edward F. Miles, Sgt. Michael J. Morehouse and Lt. Col. William Taylor, were added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The families of the six service members gathered at “the Wall” to join Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in honoring them at the annual Memorial Day observance May 31.
“As your loved ones now join their brothers and sisters, we hope this day helps to bring you closure and peace,” said Mullen, welcoming the families. “This gathering is certainly a fitting way for a nation in its ninth consecutive year at war to reflect on the debt we owe to those who have fallen in the defense of our nation.”
The names added to the wall represent service members who recently died of injuries they sustained in the Vietnam War, said Lisa Gough, the director of communications for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The Department of Defense reviews the medical records of service members when requested by families to determine if their name is eligible to be included on the memorial.
Cpl. John J. Granville, a food service specialist with Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Pickel Meadows, Calif., and Spc. Michael Vivona, an engineer stationed in Fort Polk, La., stood with family members of the four other service members being honored and read their fathers’ names off the wall for the first time during the ceremony.
“(My father) used to say that the real heroes are on that wall,” said Granville.
Granville’s father served as a machine gunner with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, in 1968 when he stepped on a land mine south of Da Nang, Vietnam. The explosion severed both of his legs. Complications from the amputations caused him heart disease that led to his death. The loss of his legs didn’t stop the senior Granville from living his life and being a role model to his family, explained his son.
“He never gave up,” said Granville. “Even though he was going through his worst nightmare, he always had a drive to do what was right.”
Cpl. Vivona was a rifleman serving with Marines on Hill 700 near Khe Sanh when his unit was caught in an ambush. He lost both of his legs to a combination of bullets and grenades, but Vivona stayed strong and made it back home to the country he loved, said Spc. Vivona.
“He was tough as nails,” said his son. “He did so well on the prosthetics that most of my friends just thought he had a bad hip.”
Cpl. Vivona died of hepatitis, the result of a bad blood transfusion for his amputation, in 2008. Spc. Vivona decided to join the Army after his father’s death, something he jokingly said the Marine wouldn’t have approved of.
“(My father) said he did enough for his country,” said Vivona. “He said he did it so his sons wouldn’t have to.”
Linda Vivona, the wife of Ronald and the mother of Michael, agreed that her husband wouldn’t have approved initially, but he would have come around.
“(Ronald) would have been so proud of (Michael),” she said. “It would have taken some time, but he would have been very proud.”
After the ceremony, Granville walked to the part of the wall where his father’s name was engraved. He took a piece of paper, placed it on his father’s name and rubbed a pencil over the paper. The name clearly came through, proof that Lance Cpl. Granville’s name is now among heroes.
Getting his father’s name added to the wall was an honor for Spc. Vivona.
“(My father) always talked about being with his brothers; now he gets to be near them,” he said.