Washington, D.C. – On the morning of April 24, 1966, Clark David Franklin was aboard the USS Ranger as it was launching the first strike of the day against targets in South Vietnam. Franklin was directly in charge of four other crewmen and for the proper hook-up of the aircraft to the number three catapult. One of the crewmen experienced difficulty and Franklin went in to correctly position the hook-up, waving the entire crew out from under the aircraft as he did so. His position was such that Franklin could not be seen and just as he came charging out from under the aircraft, the catapult fired. Franklin was struck by the launching aircraft and killed instantly. Until now, Franklin was not among the 58,282 names listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
On May 12, this heroic native of Carlsbad, New Mexico will be immortalized on The Wall. More than 47 years after his death, his shipmate Jimmie Stokes of Franklinton, Louisiana petitioned the Department of Navy for his inclusion. The Navy recently deemed he was eligible while serving aboard the USS Ranger at Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. His name, along with three others, will be engraved on the black granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. At the same time, the status designations will be changed for 13 others whose names are already on The Wall.
About the effort to have Clark Franklin’s name added to the iconic memorial, Congressman Rodney Alexander (LA-05) said, “I commend Mr. Jimmie Stokes on his work in getting his former shipmate, added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Though this move is long overdue, I am pleased to see that Vietnam veterans like ABE3 Franklin are at long last receiving the recognition they deserve.”
Clark was active in many school programs and at an early age he showed great ability as a junior bowler. In high school he also developed a love for cars and racing and he continued his car racing after he had joined the Navy in January 1962. He won many trophies in car racing but his life's ambition had been to win the Indianapolis “500.” Franklin had been scheduled to be released from active duty during the next in-port period, but on April 23 he said he wanted to extend his tour.
The names of Raymond Clark Thompson, Lester James Veazey, and Dennis R. Siverling will also be inscribed on The Wall this year. These changes will bring the total number of names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to 58,286 men and women who were killed or remain missing in action.
When names are added, the highly technical procedure requires meticulous work to match the stroke and depth of the surrounding names to within 1/1,000 of an inch. The physical work of adding the names and changing designations will be performed by James Lee of the Colorado-based company, Engrave Write.
The Department of Defense sets the criteria and makes decisions about whose names are eligible for inscription on The Wall. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund pays for the name additions and status changes, and works with the National Park Service to ensure long-term preservation and maintenance of The Wall.
Names To Be Added to The Wall
SPC Raymond Clark Thompson, U.S. Army
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Dec. 18, 1947 – Oct. 27, 2010
Date of Casualty: June 6, 1969
Wall Location: Panel 8W, Row 36
ABE3 Clark David Franklin, U.S. Navy
Nov. 7, 1942 – April 24, 1966
Date of Casualty: April 24, 1966
Wall Location: Panel 15E, Row 94
PFC Lester James Veazey, U.S. Marine Corps
Feb. 2, 1948 – June 6, 1977
Date of Casualty: Jan. 20, 1968
Wall Location: Panel 35E, Row 2
SGT Dennis R. Siverling, U.S. Marine Corps
Aug. 12, 1942 – Jan. 18, 1976
Date of Casualty: Feb. 3, 1966
Wall Location: Panel 18E, Row 23
Beside each name on the memorial is a symbol designating status. The diamond symbol denotes confirmed death. The cross represents missing in action. When a service member’s remains are returned or accounted for, the diamond is superimposed over the cross. After this year’s status updates, the total number of crosses on The Wall will be 736. In 1982 there were 1,256 service members designated missing. In addition to the four names being added this year, 14 designation changes will be made as well.
• Air Force Lt. Col. Clarence Finley Blanton of El Reno, Okla., Panel 44E, Line 13
• Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Mack Brown of Portsmouth, Va., Panel 1W, Line 90
• Air Force Col. Joseph Christiano of Rochester, N.Y., Panel 4E, Line 36
• Air Force Chief Master Sgt. William Kevin Colwell of Glen Cove, N.Y., Panel 4E, Line 36
• Air Force Capt. Dennis Lee Eilers of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Panel 4E, Line 37
• Air Force Maj. Larry James Hanley of Walla Walla, Wash., Panel 16W, Line 29
• Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Arden Keith Hassenger of Lebanon, Ore., Panel 4E, Line 37
• Air Force Col. Derrell Blackbur Jeffords of Phoenix, Panel 4E, Line 37
• Air Force Lt. Col. Wendell Richard Keller of Fargo, N.D., Panel 30W, Line 5
• Air Force Maj. Aado Kommendant of Lakewood, N.J., Panel 9E, Line 114
• Air Force Capt. Virgil Kersh Meroney III of Fayetteville, Ark., Panel 30W, Line 6
• Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Larry C Thornton of Idaho Falls, Idaho, Panel 4E, Line 38
• Air Force Airman 1st Class Jerry Mack Wall of Nacogdoches, Texas, Panel 7E, Line 84
• Army Sgt. 1st Class Gunther Herbert Wald of Bergen, N.J., Panel 16W, Line 25
Photos of these men, as well as stories about their lives, are being collected from their loved ones to be used in the Education Center at The Wall, which is planned for Washington, D.C. near the Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorials. The Education Center will be an interactive learning facility that will teach the values, tell the stories and show the faces of those who served. It will also showcase the remembrances left in tribute at The Wall and celebrate the rich legacy of service in this country. There are 1,160 Wisconsinites on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and we have collected photos for 588 of them.
About VVMF and the Education Center at The Wall
Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War.
The Education Center at The Wall will be a place on our National Mall where our military heroes' stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten. With plans to begin construction in 2014, the Center is a technologically-innovative learning facility to be built on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans and Lincoln Memorials. Visitors will better understand the profound impact that the Vietnam War and other wars had on their friends and family members, their hometowns and the nation. The Center will feature the faces and stories of the more than 58,000 men and women on The Wall, honoring those who fell in Vietnam, those who fought and returned, as well as the friends and families of all who served. The Center will also celebrate the legacy of service that links the heroes of America’s past to those still serving today.
Learn more about the Education Center at The Wall by visiting www.vvmf.org or by calling