Home found for Vietnam casualty
By MIKE CONWAY
BEE STAFF WRITER
LOS BANOS -- For decades, Sherman D. Monk was a Vietnam War casualty without a home.
His name is inscribed on Line 70, Panel 18W, of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the granite wall in Washington, D.C., that holds the names of soldiers killed in the war. Monk's name also appears on half-size traveling replicas, Moving Walls, such as the one set up for an exhibit here, starting today.
Due to a typo in government records, the Dos Palos man's name did not show up on the roster of Merced County residents killed in Vietnam.
The military had listed his hometown as Los Palos. In fact, he was from Dos Palos and is buried at Dos Palos District Cemetery.
"He was a man without a town," said Ed Mentz, an Atwater resident who is president of Chapter 691 of the Vietnam Veterans Association. "There's no such town in California as Los Palos. There are some parks, but no town."
Through some detective work, Mentz confirmed that Sherman Dalton Monk, killed Sept. 11, 1969, in Binh Long, grew up on the West Side and went to school in Dos Palos.
Mentz still is researching Monk's history. "He's got a daughter who lives in Los Banos," Mentz said, along with another relative. He declined to give the daughter's name.
"I just talked with her today for the first time," he said Tuesday. "It was an emotional time."
He said he plans to meet her today. "She's excited her father is going to be recognized and honored. She was 2 years old when he went to Vietnam."
To start with, Monk's name will be included when the names of Merced County's war dead are read at The Moving Wall at 7 p.m. Saturday, said Rick Dahlgren, who is coordinating the Los Banos exhibit.
He was city recreation director about five years ago when he submitted an application to have the wall stop in Los Banos. He retired more than a year ago, but returned to help with the exhibit.
With a nephew in the Marines who just returned from Iraq, Dahlgren said the display hits home. "We're kind of real strong supporters of military personnel," he said.
Monk is due for more recognition on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, when the Vietnam Veterans Association adds his name to Merced County's Vietnam War monument Monk's name will be the 52nd.
He was an Army draftee who went to Vietnam on June 16, 1969, at the age of 21, attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry. He was killed less than three months later, survived by his wife and daughter.
Mentz shrugged off his efforts in correcting Monk's hometown listing: "I was just following up on some information I received."
Now he is trying to set the record straight wherever he can. He said he received an e-mail stating that Monk's hometown information on file at the memorial had been changed to Dos Palos.
Mentz said he is trying to get a photo of Monk to place on The Virtual Wall, an online memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Page, however, still lists Monk as being from Los Palos.
As an Air Force veteran who served on and off in Southeast Asia from 1965 through 1974, Mentz said he felt he was just doing his job in setting the record straight.
"I have the feeling of great satisfaction that he was not forgotten," Mentz said, his voice choking. "He's getting the honor due him and the respect.
"It really made my day when my wife said his daughter called this morning. It's a feeling you just can't explain."
Bee staff writer Mike Conway can be reached at 381-0208 or email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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Vietnam Veterans of America
California State Council
P. O. Box 3007
Riverside, CA 92519-3007