Monday was a significant Memorial Day for the families of two Vietnam veterans who finally received an official honor in Philadelphia for their service nearly 50 years after their deaths.
Master Sgt. Francis G. Corcoran and Master Sgt. George L. Wilson were added to the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall during a special ceremony Monday at 12:30 p.m.
“This is the first addition to the wall in 13 years,” said Terry A. Williamson, PVVM Fund president. “It is another reminder of the toll the war took on not just members of the Armed services, but on their families as well.”
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Corcoran, a Port Richmond native, and Wilson, who graduated from Frankford High School in 1948, both served in Vietnam but became ill and died in military hospitals.
Corcoran died of hepatitis on Dec. 9, 1967 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC after he was transferred from Vietnam. He was 39-years-old. Corcoran had toured in Vietnam on Nov. 25, 1966 and served with the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. He was also a Green Beret and had served a tour of duty in Korea.
Wilson died of pancreatitis and other related illnesses on Nov. 8, 1967 in Japan after he was medivaced. He was 43-years-old. He began his tour in Vietnam on July 30, 1967, and served as an imagery analyst with the 525th Military Intelligence Group. He had previously served a tour of duty in Korea as well.
Both men were approved in 2013 by the Department for Defense inclusion at the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial and were added to Washington D.C.’s wall last May. They will become the 647th and 648th Philadelphians to be honored at PVVM Monday.
“Very privileged and honored,” said Wilson’s son, Frank Wilson. “Very long time coming.”
Corcoran’s widow Elizabeth Corcoran, who was invited to the ceremony along with his eight children, shared a similar sentiment.
“I’m proud of him,” she said. “I was thrilled because he was a soldier to the core. I’m sure he’s up there smiling that he finally made it on the wall.”