A Vietnam veteran wounded in the line of duty was granted his dying wish to be buried in a Marine Corps uniform thanks to local veterans who had never even met their fallen comrade.
The veteran, James “Rick” Vize Jr., died recently of natural causes in Indianapolis, Ind., at the age of 69. He had served two years in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1965-67 during which time he was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart. However, in leaving the military, he lost his Marine Corps uniform.
“He had a dying wish to be buried in uniform and was under hospice care,” said Harold Lough, American Legion member and Vietnam veterans’ advocate. “When Rick left Okinawa and headed back to the U.S. after being injured, his uniforms were lost in shipment.”
Lough was contacted about the situation by Darlene Smith of McMinnville Physical Therapy. She told him about the plight of her brother-in-law’s brother and Lough took on the challenge of finding a Marine uniform for Vize, despite not knowing the veteran personally.
“I immediately started making calls, knowing we were pressed for time,” said Lough, noting he enlisted the help of VFW Post 5064, Vietnam Veterans of America 1112, American Legion 173 and Marine Corps League Detachment 1377, all of which represent local veterans. “I spoke with Tom Cantrell of the VFW and we all met at Darlene’s office.”
Cantrell then contacted the Marine Corps League office in Indianapolis where the veteran resided.
“Tom spoke with the commandant who then visited the Vize family,” Lough said. “The Marine Corps league of Indianapolis was able to locate the correct dress uniform and honor a veteran’s dying wish.”