Vet Finally to be Honored on Vietnam Wall

Vet Finally to be Honored on Vietnam Wall


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News Specialist John Hollenhorst reporting A Utah woman has been notified her brother will finally be honored at the Vietnam Wall, in Washington D.C., as a victim of the Vietnam War.

But what makes the story surprising is that he died, homeless and mentally ill, nearly three dacades after he left Vietnam.

Officially, 58,000 Americans died for their country in Vietnam. But how many other victims were therewhose names were never inscribed on the famous wall?

B.J. TUELLER/LOGAN: "I VIEW THIS WHOLE FAMILY AS A VICTIM OF THE WAR."

B.J. Tueller of Logan doesn't have her brother Frankie Cambron anymore. Only pictures. And Frankie's death certificate, showing he died in 1993. But she says the little brother she knew started to die in the 1960's. In Vietnam.

B.J. TUELLER/LOGAN: "HE WAS AS NEAR NORMAL A PERSON AS I EVER KNEW BEFORE HE WENT TO VIETNAM."

In Vietnam, everything changed. Frankie came home with a terrible skin disease. Doctors said it was caused by the Army's infamous defoliant, Agent Orange.

B.J. TUELLER/LOGAN: "AND HE SAID THEY WERE SPRAYED, AND THEY HAD NO WAY TO WASH IT OFF. IT JUST STAYED ON THEM, YOU KNOW."

Whether from chemicals or the stress of combat, Frankie went into a mental slide. Paranoid, angry, suicidal, he became a street person.

B.J. TUELLER/LOGAN: " HE WAS AN ALCOHOLIC AND I WOULD SUSPECT, A DRUG ADDDICT. HE SOLD EVERYTHING HE HAD. HE SOLD HIS ARMY MEDALS FOR DRUGS."

The family lost track of him. The last known picture, 1987.

B.J. TUELLER/LOGAN: "IT WAS SO SAD. IT'S ALMOST LIKE, WHEN CAN WE PUT THIS TO REST YOU KNOW."

Tueller began a determined effort to find her brother a year and a half ago. Instead, she found his death certificate. Fort Worth police had found him lying in the street. He died shortly after. That was in 1993.

B.J. TUELLER/LOGAN: "WHEN I FOUND OUT HE WAS DEAD, I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO ACT. I MEAN HOW DO YOU ACT WHEN YOU FIND OUT YOUR BROTHER'S BEEN DEAD FOR 8 YEARS AND NO ONE TOLD YOU? "

Oddly, she bought this knick-knack in Frankie's honor in about 1993, before she ever dreamed he was dead.

B.J. TUELLER/LOGAN: "WE ALWAYS FELT LIKE HE WAS A CASUALTY OF THE WAR."

Last month Tueller heard about and applied for a program that officially honors vets, who died years later from Vietnam-related illnesses. Frankie was accepted. His name will be read in a ceremony at the Vietnam Wall. His photo and medals placed in a permanent archive, giving his family a sense of peace.

B.J. TUELLER/LOGAN: "THAT HE WAS RECOGNIZED AND APPRECIATED BY HIS COUNTRY. (SOB) AND I WOULD HOPE I WOULD HOPE THAT HE KNOWS WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO. (SOB, WIPE NOSE) BECAUSE HE WAS A GOOD PERSON."

Frankie Cambrom. One of the later, but probably not the last victim of the Vietnam War.

Congressman Rob Bishop plans to read Frank Cambron's name in that Washington D.C. ceremony. It'll be April 21st, Patriot's Day.

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