Unlike the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where names are listed chronologically by year of death, the Vietnam Veterans Unit Memorial at Naval Amphibious Base is arranged alphabetically by last names. The memorial contains the names of the Coast Guard and Navy personnel lost in Vietnam. Included in the names on the wall, are the 50 Swift Boat sailors who never returned home from Vietnam.
Before the memorial ceremony started, there was first the presentation of a wreath, which was handmade by Bob Bolger’s wife Val. The wreath was laid next to the POW/MIA table, which was set as a reminder of those brave servicemen and women who shall never be forgotten.
As the ceremony began, Chaplain LCDR Paul Kim delivered a moving invocation, and the Director of the Swift Boat Sailors Association, Sue Edwards, made some poignant remarks. (Sue, the daughter of a Swiftie, is the founder of Legacies of Swift Boat Sailors, which is an organization dedicated to descendants of Swifties, and is also the developer of the Swift Boat Sailors Memorial website.) Then the Executive Vice President of the Swift Boat Sailors Association, Bob Barnet, introduced the guest speaker, Captain Scott Tait, USN, Commanding Officer, USS ZUMWALT (DDG-1000).
Captain Tait, whose father and grandfather both served in Vietnam, was chosen as the guest speaker because his ship is named after the late Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, Junior. Admiral Zumwalt was the Commander, Naval Forces, Southeast Asia, and was revered by the Swift Boat sailor community.
After delivering a heartfelt speech, Captain Tait then had the honor of introducing Admiral Zumwalt’s daughter, Ann Zumwalt, who was received with a standing ovation. Ms. Zumwalt conveyed her late father’s admiration for sailors who served on Swift Boats. She shared with the audience how much her father loved the Swift Boat sailors, and judging by their reaction, it was clear that the feeling was mutual.
The Swift Boat Sailors Association concluded their memorial ceremony with a roll call, where each name of the 50 Swifties “still on patrol” was read aloud. Included in announcing each name were Swifties as well as some Gold Star family members. After each name was called, a bell rang, honoring each brave man who gave his life while on active duty with the Swift Boat community. The ceremony concluded with a rifle salute provided by the 82nd Airborne Honor Guard.