Remembrance never fails to move…

Along with 16 of his comrades, Victor David Westphall III was killed 50 years ago on May 22

It was 50 years ago — May 22, 1968 — that U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Victor David Westphall III, called David, was killed along with 16 other U.S. soldiers in a battle near Con Thien, South Vietnam. It was his death that prompted Jeanne and Dr. Victor Westphall to build the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel. Dedicated on May 22, 1971, it was the first major memorial created to honor the veterans of the Vietnam War (the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. was completed over ten years later). The Westphalls wanted the memorial to honor not only soldiers who were lost in Vietnam, but of all wars.

“We decided to build an enduring symbol of the tragedy and futility of war,” Dr. Victor Westphall noted in a quote from the David Westphall Veterans Foundation website.

The crowd, which gathered under sunny skies for the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire Monday (May 28), agreed.

(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
David Westphall’s niece, Kimberly Westphall, asks visitors to observe a moment of silence for the fallen. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
M. Jay Mitchell, Angel Fire resident and Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), gives a stirring speech. His boss, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who had been scheduled to give the keynote address, had a conflict and was unable to attend. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Tom Wagner, Cemetery Program Director for the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Ty Nakai delivered the following Benediction in her native Navajo and in English: (Ty says she wrote the Navajo part phonetically). Yaa’eeh’teeh’ ShiKe’ Do’Shi’Dine’ Si’lo’Soi’, do’biłinsíbahígíí, Shi’eh’ TyAnn Nakai yenishyeh’ Naakai Dine’ ehnishlii’ Ashiihii eh Bashiihchiin’ Toobahii ehdaShiCheii, TooAhaanii ehdahShiNaali’ Tse’Si’Ani den Nasha’ Creator, God, Holy One, thank you for this great honor you have bestowed upon me to give the benediction to ask you to bless each and everyone one here to mend their broken hearts. Lessen their heartaches, let them know that they are not alone. Help them in their times of loneliness when they miss their loved ones. Help them when Remembering the good Warriors they knew and loved. Creator, God, Holy One, I also ask that you keep us safe in our travels each and everyday of our lives. I pray to you Creator, that we may have healing in our hearts, body, minds, and spirits. I pray as we leave here today for renewal… in our thoughts, speech, treatment of others, our actions, and may we always walk with beauty Before us, Behind us, Beside us, Below us, Above us, Around us, and most importantly WITHIN us. May we continue to honor our loved ones’ legacies as they too watch over us and bless us. Hozho nahasdlii Hozho nahasdlii Hozho nahasdlii Hozho nahasdlii It has all ended in beauty It has all ended in beauty It has all ended in beauty It has all ended in beauty Amen! Editor’s note: According to Ty, from December 1999 to December 2012, she served four active-duty years in the Air Force — 1.5 years in the North Carolina Air National Guard, and 7.5 years in the Marine Corps. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
This group of committed veterans again delivered the 21-gun salute at the ceremony’s close. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
World War II vet Richard Gottlieb of the Home Lake Veterans Center in Monte Vista, Colorado, with Vietnam vet LeRoy Lucero of Los Lunas, New Mexico. Lucero helped work on the Memorial with Dr. Westphall has been a part of its mission since “day one.” (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Terry A. Middleton of Farmington, Michigan, is one several who survived the ambush that took the life of David Westphall. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Chuck Howe honors retiring New Mexico National Guard CW4 Lonnie Colson of Santa Fe in a special presentation after the Memorial Day Ceremony. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
Veterans Harry Patterson of Wichita Falls, Texas, and Chuck Howe of Angel Fire are on the board of the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center in Angel Fire. Patterson donated land that will be the site for a new veteran’s cemetery in Angel Fire. (Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
(Chronicle photo by Ellen Miller-Goins)
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Terry Middleton was one of three who survived the ambush at Con Thien. According to Jan Botkin Therkildsen, “We had 13-15 survivors with us from that Ambush (an album of photos by Ted Engelmann of the May 22, 2018, commemoration are on the David Westphall Veterans Foundation Facebook page).”