A local Vietnam war hero's name is misspelled on the Memorial Wall in Washington
BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer tells 2 On Your Side the National Parks Service has pledged to fix the misspelled name of a Western New York war hero on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC.
2 On Your Side first reported the story of Roland Settimi, an Army Medic from Niagara Falls who was killed in Vietnam, but whose first name was misspelled as "Ronald" on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
WEB EXTRA: Watch the Two On Your Side reports on the vietnam wall mistake by clicking on the video icons on this page.
2 On Your Side took the story to Senator Schumer who sent a letter to the National Parks Service, asking them to fix the error as fast as they can.
"I did not know of this, until Channel 2 contacted us and asked if I could help," Schumer said.
Schumer says he started rattling cages with the Department of Defense as well as the National Parks Service.
"I was sort of outraged when I heard...and I said, 'look we don't want any more excuses. No one disputes the mistake was made, so fix it'!"
Schumer says he has now secured a pledge from the head of the National Parks Service to carve the name correctly on the wall by this coming Memorial Day.
Schumer was joined at an afternoon event at the Buffalo Vietnam Veterans Memorial to announce that the correction would be made, by Roland's sister Dana Papaj and members of her family, Roland's brother Brad Settimi, and his mother Antonette Settimi, whom Schumer presented with an American Flag which had been flown over the U.S. Capitol.
"I know it just kind of took her breath away, and I know it meant a lot," said Papaj, when speaking of her mother. "Once we go to Washington and see his correct name set in stone, I know I'll feel a sense of finality as i do today as well."
Also present was Jan Scruggs, Founder and President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, who flew in from Washington D.C.
"There are approximately 105 to 112 misspelled names on the Wall," Scruggs told WGRZ-TV.
But he also said there is a caveat to any "corrections" made.
"There's no way to take anything out that's been etched in granite, so it has to be re-engraved in a different part of the memorial," he explained.
It means that while Settimi's correct name will be etched in as an addendum, the misspelled name will also be left right where it is.
Scruggs says slightly more than half the names spelled incorrectly on the Vietnam Wall have been re-engraved, but noted that some families don't want it done, because they prefer their loved one's name to remain-- even if misspelled -- solely where it is, in the order of their death in America's longest armed conflict.
"Channel 2 did a good job and lit a fire under us all, and now it's done so we all can feel good," Schumer said.
Below is the text of the letter that Senator Schumer sent to the Parks Service.
Dear Secretary McHugh and Director Jarvis:
I write to express my concern regarding an error at the Vietnam War Memorial, which has for too long gone uncorrected. Army medic and Western New Yorker, Roland Settimi, was killed in the line of duty during the Vietnam War.
Mr. Settimi was to be honored for making the ultimate sacrifice by having his name engraved in the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Unfortunately, Mr. Settimi's name was incorrectly spelled and this error has gone uncorrected for over twenty years. I would urge the Army to work with the National Parks Service (NPS) in making this correction on the Vietnam Memorial Wall with all deliberate speed.
The family of Army medic Roland Settimi has endured the tragedy of his loss and has waited these many years to have their loved one appropriately honored. Though the family and I are thankful for those corrections that have been made in the electronic wall and other documents to reflect the correct spelling of Roland Settimi's name it is imperative that the wall is also corrected.
There is no doubt that Roland Settimi is a true war hero having died in the line of duty while attempting to save an injured comrade when an incendiary device was ignited ultimately causing his death. Moreover the error made on the wall is that of a completely different name listing Roland Settimi as "Ronald."
It is imperative that this mistake is corrected. I would urge the Army to work with the National Parks Service (NPS) in making this correction on the Vietnam Memorial Wall with all deliberate speed.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.