Tommy Harbour was my friend in high school. He was a couple of years older, so he graduated a year and a half before me. Tommy was my first serious crush. He was a kind, sweet boy who I have no doubt would have been a great family man. On the day of his graduation, he told me he had hidden a message for me in my yearbook. I couldn’t find it.
Tommy was drafted into the Army after high school and sent almost immediately to fight with the Infantry in Vietnam. Seventy-three days after beginning his tour of duty, Tommy was killed in a ground fight at Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam. His death was by “hostile fire.” He was determined to have “died outright” and his body was recovered and returned to his family.
Years later I found the message in my yearbook. The content of the message will remain private.
This May, the traveling version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall came to Sacramento. I went to look for Tommy’s name on the wall. I took a card and flag for Tommy. There was a vault for placing items for the fallen soldiers. I put the card and flag in the vault which will be buried as a time capsule honoring the lost.
The visit to the Memorial was very emotional for me. I couldn’t find Tommy’s name on the wall and asked one of the Vietnam veterans staffing the memorial for help. I could barely choke out Tommy’s name for the man to search in a book to find where it was located on the wall. I was struck by the size of the book containing the names of the soldiers. Then I realized that was just one volume of several volumes. Tommy was one of 58,220 soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam.
The volunteer used a pencil to make a rubbing of Tommy’s name for me.
I said my goodbyes to Tommy and left the wall for others to have private time. Here is a video I made of my visit. RIP Tommy.