On behalf of the McDonald Ryan Danbury American Legion Auxiliary No. 276, we wish to thank the Omaha World Herald and feature writer Henry J. Cordes and World Herald photographer Alyssa Schuker for the wonderful tribute they gave to the three young men from Danbury, all pilots, who were lost in Vietnam 40 years ago.
As president of the Danbury Legion Auxiliary, it as an honor and a privilege to be asked, by phone, to assist with this two page article.
Our lost loved ones who were never found, or any information given about their remains, were Maj. Richard Knight (he enlisted in Oregon so is not on the Nebraska missing list) and Capt. Daniel Thomas, who was finally listed as killed in action over Laos. The remains of the third pilot, Capt. Donovan Walters, were positively identified in 1988 and returned to his wife, Charleen Walters, of Weeping Water, Nebraska. She had waited 17 years for this final closure.
It was very hard giving Mr. Cordes of the World Herald information and getting everything correct over the phone, even though we had long telephone conversations four different times. He did not ask me about any other casualties in the county, so I was so very sorry that James Slater of Indianola and Stanly Doak of McCook were not mentioned, although someone gave him the names of Mike Confer and Mike Klingner, also of McCook.
Despite all of our long conversations, there are two mistakes that I would like to correct.
Mrs. Cordes asked about surviving parents of the boys, so I told him our last surviving parent, Carol Helm, Gold Star Mother of Capt. Thomas, passed away in March 2012, and he stated she was the last Gold Star member of our group. This is not correct. We have three Gold Star members, Jan Collins of McCook, mother of Randy Matheny, killed Iraq; Karen Hodson Stevenson, sister of Kerl Jones, lost at sea in World War II, and Carolyn Lee, sister of Capt. Thomas, Vietnam. Thomas also has three nieces and four great nieces and a sister-in-law, who are members of our Danbury Auxiliary.
The second mistake was that the mother of Danny Thomas taught all of the boys in the Danbury grade school, and instead is was Cecelia Walters, mother of Donovan Walters, who was their teacher.
The Danbury Auxiliary No. 276 wants to publicly thank the World Herald for the great photographs and the wonderful tribute to Richard,
Donavan and Danny in the May 27 special insert issue on the Vietnam War.
Danbury American Legion Aux. No. 276.
Pat Redfern, president.