Nov. 7 was a bittersweet day for the five siblings of U.S. Air Force Capt. Richard C. Halpin ’68.
Halpin, an Air Force ROTC graduate, was killed on March 29, 1972, when his C-130 Hercules gunship was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over southern Laos. He had been scheduled to return home the following day.
Last week, more than four decades after Halpin’s death, the LMU grad’s five siblings – Mimi, Helen, Patrick, Kate and Chip – gathered on campus for the dedication of the university’s new Veterans Memorial Wall, which honors alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice as service members during time of war or conflict.
“This is a long time coming, but a real honor,” said Mimi Halpin-Emery.
Halpin’s is among 54 names etched on the wall -- 29 from WWII, 12 from the Korean War and 13 from Vietnam. The wall, nearly 4 feet high, resides in a tranquil garden of flowers and olive trees, outside the fourth floor entrance to University Hall, at the west end of LeVecke Bridge.
Fr. Albert P. Koppes, O.Carm., associate chancellor, performed the rite of blessing with a sprinkling of holy water from the River Jordan.
Among the approximately 150 people who attended the dedication were dozens of veterans – twenty-somethings who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vietnam vets now well into middle age, and Korean War and WWII service members heading toward their twilight years.
Richard O’Brien ’49, of Seal Beach, Calif., came to the dedication clad proudly in his U.S. Army winter dress uniform – a shortened coat known as an “Ike jacket” and wool slacks. It fits as well as it did seven decades ago.
After the dedication, attendees enjoyed a lunch hosted by LMU. Seated with O’Brien, who fought with General Patton’s Third Army, were WWII comrades Jim White ’49, who flew B-17s over Germany, and Lawrence Cummings ’53, who flew SBD dive bombers in the Pacific Theatre.
“We happy few serving today are proud that we can trace our lineage to such a fine and courageous band of brothers and sisters in arms. Thank you for your service,” Lt. Col. Joe Motos Gordon, commander of LMU’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 040, told the veterans.