CLARENCE CENTER, NY - Two local Vietnam War researchers are on the cusp of quite the accomplishment. They have found pictures and biographical information for all 450 troops killed in the Vietnam War from Western New York, as a way of honoring their service.
They've spent years on this project, but they're still waiting for one final piece of history.
"It's important to recognize the sacrifices that were made," said Norm Murray of Clarence Center, he stood beside his fellow Americans in the Vietnam War, as an Army interrogator, "I considered myself lucky to comeback all in one piece."
For the past couple of years, Murray has been working with Patrick Kavanagh, a researcher from Forest Lawn Cemetery, to find pictures and biographical information of Vietnam War soldiers killed in action who are from Western New York. The mission -- is one that Kavanagh has been on for more than a decade -- searching libraries, and obtaining obituaries from old newspapers.
"I wanted to do something after all this was our generation," he said.
450 soldiers from Western New York died in the war. 449 of them have a picture and biographical information that's been entered into the Wall of Faces database, which documents a majority of the soldiers killed in the war, and is complied on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website. Kavanagh and Murray are waiting for a picture of the final soldier from WNY.
"We are waiting on a yearbook from 1964 from Burgard High School that Patrick just purchased online to get the picture of the last soldier from WNY," Murray said.
That soldier's name is Willie Lee Page who was enlisted in the Army.
"It is just euphoric, especially when you've spent weeks, months trying to track down a particular individual," Murray said.
Their research is much appreciated.
"The work that they've done is just phenomenal," said Paulie Palumbo's oldest brother, Anthony, who served as an Army captain and was killed in Vietnam is on the Wall of Faces.
"He was a great guy to us he was tremendous he watched us over us, he did everything," Paulie Palumbo said.
Kavanagh and Murray plan to turn their attention to finding pictures and biographical information of Vietnam War vets killed in action, who are from other parts of the state.
By Monday, researchers hope to have that picture of the last soldier from Western New York. And that night at 7 -- they'll have an event at Sportsmen's Tavern in Buffalo to raise money for the Wall of Faces monument in D.C.