The Moving Wall, which came to Waltham in 2005, will be arriving in Natick in June.
By Ian B. Murphy/Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News
May 27, 2011
NATICK - Organizers for the Moving Wall's visit to town next month are still searching for relatives of three Natick residents killed in action in Vietnam to take part in the ceremony honoring 11 fallen men.
The town wants to invite relatives of Army Staff Sgt. Dennis Poteat, Air Force Lt. Roger Brown and Navy Chief Eldon Tozer to be a part of a ceremony Thursday, June 9, with loved ones of other residents killed in the war.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for family members of these sons of Natick to be acknowledged and to hear the gratitude of the community for the sacrifice for these soldiers, sailors and airmen," said Josh Ostroff, a selectman helping with the search.
Marty Grady, the Moving Wall committee member leading the search, said none of the three soldiers was originally from Natick. They either lived in town during their enlistment or called the town home at the time of their death.
Grady said the town does have a few leads.
Originally from Marion, N.C., Poteat was working at Natick Labs when he agreed to go back to Vietnam for another tour of duty. He may have been married to a woman named Brenda.
Brown was originally from Wayland, graduated from Wayland High School in 1963 and lived at 21 Davelin Road in Wayland. His father's name was Warren.
Tozer came from Cullen's Brook, Quebec, and had four children: Janet, Donna, David and Gwendyl.
Grady and Ostroff said the town has had contact with a few relatives, but none could come to the wreath ceremony or put the town in touch with other family.
"We want to present a wreath to each one of these families," Grady said. "We'd like to have someone there from the family, but if we can't find anyone, we'll find a friend or someone else. But we need to know. We don't want anyone to feel as if they've been left out because we didn't notify them.
"We need any contacts at all, no matter how far-fetched it is.
Anyone with leads for the searchers should go to movingwallnatick.org for contact information for Moving Wall committee members.
During the opening ceremony, the town hopes to pair a service member from the same branch with the family member or friend of each soldier, sailor or airman killed in Vietnam.
The family of Lt. Allen Loane of the Marine Corps can't come to the event, so friends of Loane's from the Natick High Class of 1959 will receive the wreath.
The other seven Natick residents killed in Vietnam were Lt. Arthur Wright III, Marine Corps; Seaman Thomas Donovan, Navy; Lance Cpl. Dennis Higgins, Marine Corps; Cpl. Keith Flumere, Marine Corps; Pvt. John Madden Jr., Army; Spc. Kevin Lynch, Army; and Cpl. Richard Rinehart, Army.
The Moving Wall was built in 1984, two years after the original memorial opened in Washington, D.C. The half-sized replica has all the names that are inscribed on the original wall, and it is set up to mimic the east-west orientation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Natick's Veterans Service Council has worked toward bringing the Moving Wall to town since September 2009. It will be placed on the high school soccer fields on West Street.
The opening ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 9, and the wall will be open to the public 24 hours a day until the afternoon of June 12. Dozens of volunteers have created an audio recording of the names of each person on the wall, which will be played on a loop.
This will be the last time the Moving Wall will be in Massachusetts this year.
Volunteers have been raising money and coordinating the effort since the dates were confirmed.
"It's really great that the whole town of Natick is behind this," Grady said. "I just can't say enough about the committee, and a lot of them non-veterans. Without them, we couldn't do it."