Manatee Co. Vietnam Vet gets name on memorial after 47 years

The Vietnam Veterans memorial off Route 301 in Bradenton has the names of 30 veterans from Manatee County who gave their lives for their country.

Soon, it will have 31.

47 years after Sgt. John Holmes, of Holmes Beach, was injured in Vietnam, and 14-years after he died because of those injuries, he will finally have the honor of being alongside his cohorts.

"I couldn't tell you all the good things about my brother because there is too many," said his sister, Patricia Holmes.

Holmes left for war at 22, because he loved his country, he came back after taking a missile for it.

The news was delivered by a police man's knock on their Holmes Beach door.

"I don't remember what happened after that," said Patricia Holmes. "It was too long ago and took emotional."

So why wasn't his name inscribed decades ago, with all who lost their lives from Manatee County?

"I assumed it was on there," she said.
But it wasn't on there, because he wasn't immediately killed by the missile strike.
In fact, he would live in a coma for 33-years, many of them spent at Bay Pines Hospital in St. Petersburg.

"I always expected him to wake up," explained Holmes.

In 2001, Sgt. Holmes died.

It wasn't until three years ago that his sister noticed the missing name.

"He had no recognition for giving his life."

She told one of Holmes' old classmates, Christine van Zandt, who wrote a letter to a county commissioner, who got in touch with the Manatee County Veterans' Council.
"I couldn't believe that an individual could be in a coma for all these years, and nobody bothered to contact us about putting his name on the wall," said Don Courtney, the head of the council.

The wrong will be righted by Veterans Day.

The name of Sgt. John Holmes, of Holmes Beach, will be inscribed in a park in his hometown, for all time.

"He would say thank you, as I do, that he could give his life for his country because that's the kind of man that he was," said Holmes.

His name still isn't inscribed on the wall in Washington.

Family is making the request for that to happen as well.