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Decades After Vietnam, Marine Joins Memorial

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

He was a Marine, Lance Corporal Raymond C. Mason.

PRISCILLA MASON: And he was shot February 28, 1968, which was at the height of the Tet Offensive.

MONTAGNE: Priscilla Mason is Raymond's widow. She was in Washington earlier this month.

MASON: There was a sniper, evidently, across the river, on the opposite side of the bank where he was. The bullet grazed his spinal cord and ripped off the bottom part of his left ear on the way out, and he became paralyzed as a result of that bullet wound. And the way I like to look at it, it took 38 years for that bullet to kill him.

MONTAGNE: Raymond Mason died on Memorial Day, two years ago, an appropriate date, Priscilla says, for a Marine. She petitioned the Defense Department to have him included in the official tally of war dead.

MASON: We had to have his death certificate amended to read that he did die as a result of - I think they called it a remote gunshot wound.

MONTAGNE: Priscilla Mason was on hand to see her late husband's name carved into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A stone engraver finished his work, then she knelt down, and with a black crayon and a white piece of paper, she made a rubbing of the memorial's newest name.

MASON: He's buried in Rhode Island, in Barrington, next to his parents. I am able to go see him just about every day, but I've decided that after today, he's going to be here and not there.

MONTAGNE: Priscilla Mason, earlier this month at the Vietnam Veterans memorial. Her husband, Raymond, is now one of the 58,260 names of U.S. men and women inscribed on the wall.

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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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