(WKBW release) Wednesday, at the Vietnam Memorial at the Buffalo Naval Park, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the National Parks Service has pledged to fix the misspelled name of a Western New York Vietnam War hero on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC.
According to a news release from Schumer's office:
Roland Settimi, an Army medic, was killed in action during the war in Vietnam, and earned a place on the Vietnam Wall in Washington as a result. However, in constructing the wall, engravers wrote “Ronald” instead of Roland, and his surviving family members have been fighting to fix the error ever since. Standing at the Buffalo Naval Park in Buffalo with members of the Settimi family, Schumer announced that he has secured a pledge from the head of the National Parks Service to carve the name correctly on the wall, ensuring that Roland’s sacrifice is appropriately honored at the memorial. The Parks Service has pledged to fix the error by this coming Memorial Day.
“Roland laid down his life for his country in Vietnam – the very least we can do is make sure the memorial is accurate and truly honors his sacrifice. Today’s news means that Mr. Settimi, a brave Western New Yorker, will get the recognition he deserves.” said Schumer. “When I heard about the misspelling of Mr. Settimi’s name on the Vietnam Wall, I urged the Department of Defense and Parks Service to make this right, and I’m thrilled to announce that they have heeded my call and this error will be corrected without further delay – hopefully by this coming Memorial Day. I am also proud to present Roland’s family with an American flag that was flown over our nation’s Capitol Building in Washington D.C., in honor of Roland’s service. Roland deserves the exact same honor every other Vietnam hero received, and after decades of waiting, it’s safe to say that ‘Roland Settimi’ will be permanently etched in the Vietnam Wall and in our nation’s history books.”
“On behalf of my family, I want to express my utmost gratitude for all those involved in helping us with our mission,” said Dana Papaj, Roland’s sister. “I want to thank Chris Kreiger of WNY Heroes who gave me the renewed confidence and support to attempt this, after all the discouragement we faced throughout the years. I also want to thank Senator Chuck Schumer. From the moment he heard of this terrible mistake, Senator Schumer's office was on the phone with me several times daily updating me on the progress he was making and assuring me that correcting this error was top priority to him. While my brother's name has been wrong on the wall for almost 30 years, my family takes comfort in the events from this last week that have publicly honored him to make up for this mistake. We realize we are all human and mistakes happen, but it's what people do to make up for them that count. We are truly grateful for everyone's help involved and that his legacy will be rectified.”
“Roland Settimi's name, as well as his service and sacrifice should never be forgotten, and we admire his family's efforts to make sure his name is spelled correctly on The Wall,” said Jan C. Scruggs, President and Founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund which overseas corrections on The Wall. “We are also pleased that Senator Schumer was able to clear the hurdles to allow us to re-engrave his name and correctly secure Roland's place in history. His name will be re-engraved on the Memorial, has been corrected in our online 'Virtual Wall' listing. And when completed, his name, photograph and story will be included in the Education Center at The Wall.”
Schumer was joined by Roland’s sister Dana Papaj and members of her family, Roland’s brother Brad Settimi, and his mother Antonette Settimi at the memorial. Immediately upon receiving news from Army medic Roland Settimi’s family of his name misspelling on the Vietnam Wall, Senator Schumer called on Army Secretary McHugh and National Park Service Director Jarvis to correct this unfortunate error with all due speed. Schumer told federal officials that Mr. Settimi made the ultimate sacrifice, and should be honored with the accurate name on the Vietnam Wall. Schumer stated that the fact that this had gone uncorrected for nearly thirty years was even more unacceptable, and urged the Army and NPS to make this correction. The Parks Service has heeded Schumer’s call and has pledged to fix the error, which means that Roland’s brave service and sacrifice will be honored as they should be.
Upon graduating from Bishop Duffy High School in Niagara Falls, Roland enlisted in the US Army. Less than a year after enlisting Roland’s family received the news of his death. On the morning of May 12, 1969, Roland was serving as a Senior Aidman with Company B, 1st Battalion (Airmobile), 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division at Landing Zone Phyllis in Tay Ninh, Province near Quan Loi, Vietnam. A trailer containing captured enemy ammunition exploded. Roland rushed to the scene to administer first aid to a soldier who was wounded in the explosion. As he was treating the soldier, there was secondary explosion in the trailer, which took Roland’s life. Roland is a true American hero, who died trying to save his fellow soldier.
When the Vietnam Wall was opened in 1982, Roland Settimi’s name was misspelled as “Ronald.” For the past 30 years, his family has been fighting to have his name carved correctly on the wall. After Schumer’s push with the Department of Defense and National Parks Service, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund will pay to have the name correctly etched on the wall. Each year, the Fund updates the wall just before Memorial Day to add new names and make other corrections. In order to do so, the Fund must have approval from the National Parks Service, which has authority over the memorial. With Memorial Day fast approaching, Schumer urged National Parks and the Defense Department to authorize the correction as quickly as possible so that plans to etch Mr. Settimi’s correct name in the wall could begin at once. Due to the potential harm to the memorial that could come from scrubbing the incorrect name and re-carving the wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund will etch Roland’s correct name in the closest available spot on the wall. Etching a new name in a spot as close as possible to the original name is the most common way of correcting spelling errors on the wall.
In honor of Roland Settimi and his family, Senator Schumer presented Dana Papaj, Brad Settimi and Antonette Settimi with an American flag, which was flown over the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. The Capitol Flag Program began in 1937 and over the years the focus of the program has expanded to encompass the commemoration of national holidays and various special individuals and events. At the Capitol in Washington D.C., there are special flag poles where all flags are flown. After it is flown over the Capitol, each flag is issued a keepsake Certificate of Authenticity by the Architect of the Capitol.