By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico
More than 40 years after her son Harvie, nicknamed “Pud,” died in Vietnam, the pain of the loss still hasn’t faded for Rada Winkles of Clovis.
But Winkles is still willing to share memories of her oldest boy. And, that’s exactly what organizers of the “National Call For Photos” are trying to find.
Photographs of those who have died in Vietnam are being collected to be part of a permanent digital display at an education center planned near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C..
On the wall, 400 veterans from New Mexico are listed. Photos for about half of those servicemen have been donated to the New Mexico Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Angel Fire, which is the primary collection point for the current Call for Photos.
“When they first started that memorial up there, it was at that time that we took it,” Winkles said of the Angel Fire memorial, which was dedicated in 1971. A visitor’s center was built later in 1985.
“It’s a mixed basket, you know. You appreciate the people remembering, but it’s hurtful,” Winkles said. “It’s a fact, though, that they all gave their lives for freedom and so many boys are still giving their lives.”
“I think it’s a neat idea, especially with Veteran’s Day coming up (on Nov. 11),” said Vern Luce, commander of VFW Post 3280 in Clovis. “Some of them are a little bit depressed still, but for most of them it’s been so long now they like being reminded of the ones they lost.”
Winkles was 20 when he died in Vietnam in December 1968 and is the only casualty from Texico listed on the wall.
Five young men from Portales, four each from Clovis and Tucumcari, two from Muleshoe and one from Melrose have their names on the national wall.
At the New Mexico collection point for photos, Angel Fire Office Manager Denise Schrandt said two vets from Portales and one from Clovis are still without an image to go with their names.
One common tool for Schrandt, and others in her position, is to scan the comments section for the national memorial website (thewall-usa.com) for clues of family members whereabouts.
Many individual entries have few signs, however. Only anonymous comments — also left for many other veterans at the same time — exist without a personal remembrance of any sort. Results like that, Schrandt admits, sadden her when she’s trying to find those who were close to the vets who died.
“It’s really hard. I’ve done hours and hours trying to search through the Internet, trying to find survivors,” Schrandt said. “Yeah, it’s heartbreaking. But when you find something, it’s like a lightbulb goes off and you say, ‘Yay, somebody’s out there.’
“Then we try to get in touch with them and see if they can give us any more information of the person,” she added.
Clovis and Portales Vietnam veterans listed on the Memorial Wall, whose photos have not been collected:
• Daniel Tiofilio Martinez, 21, from Clovis; Born on Aug. 15, 1945; Died on Nov. 1, 1966
• Joe Carl Shaw, 21, from Portales; Born on Jan. 3, 1948; Died on Aug. 21, 1969
• Paul Edward Wolfe, 20, from Portales; Born on May 3, 1950; Died on Dec. 2, 1970
To donate photographs, visit www.VVMFCenter.org or scan them at any FedEx office.