Wife keeps promise to memorialize Vietnam veteran at wall

  • Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., reaches up to touch the name of her husband, Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson who has been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial following a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., reaches up to touch the name of her husband, Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson who has been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial following a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard arrive to perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard arrive to perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard arrive to perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard arrive to perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • A member of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard waits to perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)A member of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard waits to perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Boyscout Jim McCrery, 15, of Washington, D.C., right, holds an American Flag as members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Boyscout Jim McCrery, 15, of Washington, D.C., right, holds an American Flag as members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Members of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Jeanette Lilly, the mother of MIA 1st Lt. Lawrence Lilly stands for the Pledge of Allegiance at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Jeanette Lilly, the mother of MIA 1st Lt. Lawrence Lilly stands for the Pledge of Allegiance at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Volunteer boy scouts carry out flags at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Volunteer boy scouts carry out flags at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Retired Master Sgt. Randy Siverling [cq] wears a button for his brother Sgt. Dennis R. Siverling, one of four American servicemen who are honored at a Mother's Day ceremony and have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Retired Master Sgt. Randy Siverling [cq] wears a button for his brother Sgt. Dennis R. Siverling, one of four American servicemen who are honored at a Mother's Day ceremony and have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Master of Ceremony Harry Robinson, right, comforts Jeanette Lilly, the mother of MIA 1st Lt. Lawrence Lilly after she breaks down in tears while trying to speak about her son at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Master of Ceremony Harry Robinson, right, comforts Jeanette Lilly, the mother of MIA 1st Lt. Lawrence Lilly after she breaks down in tears while trying to speak about her son at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Master of Ceremony Harry Robinson, left, comforts Jeanette Lilly, the mother of MIA 1st Lt. Lawrence Lilly after she breaks down in tears while trying to speak about her son at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Master of Ceremony Harry Robinson, left, comforts Jeanette Lilly, the mother of MIA 1st Lt. Lawrence Lilly after she breaks down in tears while trying to speak about her son at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • A woman in the audience wipes tears from her eyes during a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)A woman in the audience wipes tears from her eyes during a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • A member of the U.S. Army Band plays taps at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)A member of the U.S. Army Band plays taps at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., center, who's husband Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson has been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is comforted by her friend Martin Vesole of Del Ray Beach, Fla. at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., center, who's husband Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson has been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is comforted by her friend Martin Vesole of Del Ray Beach, Fla. at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., left, who's husband Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson has been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, kisses Jeanette Lilly, the mother of 1st Lt. Lawrence Lilly who went missing in action in Vietnam, following a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Patty's husband  Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. Also pictured is Jeanette's daughter, Susan Harvey of Alexandria, Va., right. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., left, who's husband Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson has been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, kisses Jeanette Lilly, the mother of 1st Lt. Lawrence Lilly who went missing in action in Vietnam, following a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Patty's husband Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. Also pictured is Jeanette's daughter, Susan Harvey of Alexandria, Va., right. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., looks up at the name of her husband, Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson who has been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial following a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., looks up at the name of her husband, Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson who has been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial following a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • A volunteer with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial makes a rubbing of Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson for his wife Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. Patty attended a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)A volunteer with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial makes a rubbing of Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson for his wife Patty Thompson of West Palm Beach, Fla., Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. Patty attended a Mother's Day ceremony to honor Raymond and three other American servicemen who have been added to the wall. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
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Ray Thompson came home from Vietnam in 1969 badly wounded, having lost four ribs, a kidney and his spleen, among other injuries the young Army radio operator sustained while serving his country in Southeast Asia.

But he didn’t give up on the radio, and that passion eventually led him to the love of his life and wife, Patty.

“We met on the CB radio and talked on it for seven months before we ever met in person,” she said Sunday morning, minutes before a touching ceremony to honor the addition of her late husband’s name to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington.

Ray Thompson took care of fellow servicemen and women at the veterans medical center in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Mrs. Thompson desperately wanted to see her late husband’s name on the wall.

The sacrifices of more than 58,000 men and women are honored there. Names are added each year, and the only stipulation is that the veteran died as a result of wounds suffered during the Vietnam conflict.

A member of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard waits to perform the presentation of the colors at a Mother's Day ceremony to honor four American servicemen who have been added to the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 12, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

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A member of the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard waits to perform ... more >

The process, however, is painstaking. Ray Thompson passed away in 2010, but it has taken this long for the Defense Department to approve his addition.

It wouldn’t have been in Ray’s nature, Mrs. Thompson said, to grapple with the federal government just to see his name etched into the black granite of the memorial wall.

But it’s most certainly in hers.

“Ray wasn’t a scrapper, but I am. I’ll take on the Chinese army,” Mrs. Thompson said as veterans and friends and families of the honorees gathered behind her on the Mall. “It was one of the last promises I made to him. It’s like a huge task has come to completion for me. He said, ‘You’ll never get my name on that wall.’ But I kept my promise to him.”

Spc. Raymond Clark Thompson was one of the four names added to the wall last week.

The others, ABE3 Clark David Franklin of New Mexico, Pfc. Lester James Veazey of Oklahoma, and Sgt. Dennis R. Siverling of Wisconsin, also were honored during the service, an event that, by design, coincided with Mother’s Day.

“Our mothers’ prayers brought us home,” Harry G. Robinson, a Vietnam veteran and renowned architect at Howard University, said at the ceremony.

Rep. Steven A. Horsford, Nevada Democrat and the keynote speaker, told the mothers and fathers of Vietnam veterans — and veterans of all other conflicts, before and since — that their children represent “the pinnacle of American heroism.”

“Your child embodies the values that make this country great,” he told members of the crowd, many of whom choked back tears.

Mrs. Thompson wants her husband’s children to remember that it was their father, an Indiana native who grew up with little money, who also embodied those values.

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