Remembering SGT Thomas E. Vandling Jr.

Tags: HeroStories

This is my hero.  Sgt. Thomas E. Vandling Jr. Died 1/1/07.

I work in a Dermatologist's office when one day, one of our patient's came in and I noticed his bracelet.  When I asked about it he said he had been in Washington D.C. at a fair where they were selling them.  He also told me that the proceeds went to a building fund for physical therapy when the wounded soldiers came home.  I liked that idea and I told him how I used to wear a bracelet for a POW in the 70's-80's until my soldier came home.

I went home from work and logged onto the website where I noticed that not only could I order a bracelet to wear but that I could pick a fallen soldier from my own state and city, appealed to me very much.  This made it even more personal.

There were 5 names to choose from.  I decided that since my best friend's name is Thomas and my hero had died on the first of the year I would be honored to honor him by wearing his bracelet.

Since wearing the bracelet I have had patients ask me about it.  "Do you know Thomas Vandling?"  I reply, no but I do now.  One little girl said, "I go to school with his sister." Another said, "I know his family."   They told me about him and I've read articles from our newspapers to learn about him.  I've even gotten to see a picture of him.  He is my hero and I'm proud to wear his name.

After receiving my bracelet, my friend Tom said he would have liked to have something to remember his best friend Wayne, from high school who died in Vietnam.  I did notice that there was a way to look up fallen hero's from Vietnam so we looked him up.  Not only did we find his name but a picture, and an article about how he died.  Tom hadn't seen Wayne's face in 40 years. The site also provided information to purchase not only the bracelets, but dog tags.  Tom now wears his best friend's dog tags, has a picture and the article framed on his dresser as a physical way to display his memories of Wayne.


Fern Smo