Years after death, Vietnam veteran gets name on memorial wall

Several years after his death, a veteran's name was added to Bradenton's Vietnam War memorial wall.

Sgt. John Holmes joined the Marines to fight in Vietnam at the age of 22. 

Holmes and his sister, Patricia, shared a special bond.

"We were just always together. I learned everything I know from him," she said.

She said her brother was eager to enter the military.

"He wanted to do it. He wanted to do the best for our country. He was very patriotic," she said.

Holmes returned after being injured by a missile. That was 47 years ago and he remained in a coma until he died in 2001.

Holmes' name was left off the Vietnam War memorial wall because he wasn't immediately killed by the strike.

His sister thought it would have been added following his death, but didn't realize it wasn't until three years ago.

"I felt like it should have been a given. He should have been on the wall many years ago. I think I didn't understand," she said.

One of Holmes' classmates heard about it and wrote a letter to a county commissioner, who then got the Veteran's Council involved.

"It  really brings the point home that a lot of people have sacrificed for our freedom," said Donald Courtney, with the Veteran's council.

On Veteran's Day, nearly 100 classmates, friends and family of Holmes joined to watch his name be unveiled.

"You give your life for your country, and you don't recognize it or ignore it. We have 31 names on the wall now," said Courtney.

His voice and memory now live on through his sister.

"He was a very quiet fellow and I was very talkative and so I do the talking for him," she said.

If Holmes could talk today, Patricia knows he would say thank you and encourage others to follow his lead.

"I hope it will show them they need to follow their heart and if it feels right to do something for their country then they need to serve," she said.

The family is now working to have Holmes' name inscribed on the Washington Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.