Richard Daniels: Vietnam Death of Clark County Sailor 40 Years Ago Is Now Carved in Granite

A war once started, never ends, and that is true in Afghanistan, despite Osama bin Laden's death, and Iraq, despite the final pullout of U.S. combat troops from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It is true as well for a war 40 years ago, where the dead are still being recognized: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in D.C. today contains the names of 58,272 men and women, which is five more than last week. Among the deaths newly recorded in black granite is that of Navy electronics trainer Richard Daniels of Washougal, Clark County, who was 23 when he died March 1, 1971, aboard a U.S. Navy vessel at Dong Tam, in then-South Vietnam.

He was not included earlier on the wall because he had not died in combat. That prerequisite was later changed to allow the addition of any service member who died within the combat zone from any cause. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has since been tracking down those who qualify and periodically adding their names.

Daniels' family still does not know the circumstances of his death--how he was shot and by whom. He was an electronics adviser assigned to train Vietnamese sailors as the Navy began transferring its Swift boats and other crafts to the SV military, his hometown newspaper, The Columbian, reports.

Among the four others just added to the wall, one died just two years ago. Spc. Charles J. Sabatier of Texas was severely wounded in the 1968 Tet Offensive. A bullet severed his spinal cord and left him paralyzed. His death in 2009 was a result of his wound and paralysis, according to a Memorial Fund news release.

Still excluded are soldiers who died from the unseen wounds of that war, such as Medal of Honor winner Sgt. Joe Hooper of Moses Lake, thought to be the war's most-decorated hero. Sixty percent disabled and an alcoholic, he died in 1979 from a cerebral hemorrhage that friends said was a direct result of his Vietnam combat. But they have failed to convince memorial officials to include him on their wall.

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