Petalumans remember lost loved ones at Vietnam memorial dedication

  • Kelly Byrd spoke during the dedication ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaque at Walnut Park in Petaluma, Thursday, May 30, 2013. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Kelly Byrd was just 4 years old when her father, Lt. Edsall Frick, was killed in combat in Vietnam.

As Byrd was cleaning out her late paternal grandmother's belongings several years ago, a letter amidst the trash caught her eye. It was from Sgt. Gary Henderson, who was with her father when he was mortally wounded in 1968.

He'd written to Frick's mother describing how much his buddy meant to him. Though the letter was five years old, Byrd took a chance and wrote back to the Knoxville, Tenn., address. Henderson had moved a few years before, but luckily a postman friend knew his new address and delivered it.

The pair corresponded and eventually met, cementing a bond started half a world away in another time.

On Thursday, dressed in his spotless Army green uniform, Henderson joined Byrd in Petaluma to pay tribute to Frick and 14 other young Petaluma men killed during the Vietnam War.

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