Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Above: Members of the Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club honor the addition of the name of Domenick Anthony Spinelli at the Washington State Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Capitol Campus in Olympia on Monday. Spinelli, of Oak Harbor, is listed missing in action.

By Janine Gates

Memorial Day remembrances were held throughout the South Sound on Monday.

At the Capitol Campus, Major General Thomas S. James, CG, 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, delivered the keynote address for an event at the Capitol Rotunda, sponsored by the Thurston County Veterans Council.

“….Many Americans today do not fully understand the meaning of Memorial Day. We must teach our children that Memorial Day is much more than when swimming pools open for the summer….When you see a service member, tell them you honor their service…Tell them simply, ‘Thanks,’” said James.

At another afternoon ceremony at the Washington State Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the name of Navy Commander Domenick Anthony Spinelli of Oak Harbor, Washington, was added to the wall of names, after a mix up in which his name was accidently placed on the memorial wall in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Spinelli served in World War II and Vietnam. He was listed missing in action after he and Lt. Larry Van Renselaar were shot down over North Vietnam on September 30, 1968.

According to the Homecoming II Project, with information from government sources, a Radio Hanoi broadcast on October 1, 1968 was received which alluded to the shooting down of an A-6 jet plane on September 30, 1968 over Nghe An Province. The fate of the crew was not mentioned.

Spinelli and Van Renselaar were not among the 591 American prisoners returned at the end of the war. Their families were told returning prisoners had no information about the men.

In 1987, Van Renselaar’s wife called Spinelli’s wife with information that the two men had in fact been captured and that Spinelli had been identified by a Navy pilot held prisoner in Hanoi. Mrs. Van Renselaar found, after reviewing the men’s files, that Spinelli and Van Renselaar had been included on a 1986 negotiation list.

In 1989, Vietnam returned the remains of Lt. Van Renselaar, which were positively identified as Van Renselaar in 1990.

According to the National League of POW/MIA Families, the number of United States personnel missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, as of May 10, is 1,621. Of that number, 38 are from Washington State.

According to live sighting statistics provided by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 55 unresolved first-hand reports are the focus of continued efforts: 48 concern Americans reported in a captive environment, and seven are non-captive sightings.

Fourteen of these sightings were reported in 1996 - 2005. One sighting was reported in 2006 - 2013.

If still alive, Spinelli would be 91 years old.