Sep 9, 2010 4:26 PM by Jaimie Weiss
This week marks four decades since a Kentucky soldier was killed in Vietnam and his family is getting some extra support during this anniversary.
It's coming from a fellow soldier, Fred Niles. He lost a lot in the Vietnam War, including his closest friend, Kenneth Nolan, who's originally from Clay County. Since then, Niles has always wanted to get in touch with Nolan's family and just by chance he found them on the 40th anniversary of his friend's passing.
September 1970. It's written in stone. The date Kenneth Nolan was killed in battle. "I knew he was going away, but I did not realize that he might not come back," says his sister Nancy Malin.
Kenneth was 19 years-old when he volunteered for the army. He deployed in June. By September, he was killed by machine gun fire. Nancy was only nine at the time and all of it was hard for her to fully comprehend. Now 40 years later, almost to the day, she's getting the full picture.
One of her brother's fellow soldiers, Fred Niles, saw a flier advertising a welcome home parade for Vietnam Vets next month in London. "I thought well it's worth a phone call. We can see because I've tried off and on for 40 years," says Niles.
Two weeks later, the organizers found Nancy. "I just want to say that I love Kenny," says Niles, but through phone conversations Nancy says she's learned so much more like exactly what it was like for her brother during those three months in Vietnam. How the group was stranded alone for four days with no food and no supplies. "They were trying to get out to find water and that's how they were killed," Nancy explains. Though hard to hear, Nancy says the connection's been helpful. She hopes it's the same for Fred Niles. "I wanted him to know that it's okay that he made it. I'm happy he made it."
She also wants other soldiers out there to know there's no need to hesitate if they're thinking about contacting the family of those they watched die in war because for every name etched in stone, there are still loved ones who care.
Niles says he looks forward to meeting his friend's family face to face for the first time, but also knows it will be extremely emotional. That meeting will happen next month next month in London during their tribute to Vietnam Veterans.
It runs from October 8th to October 10th and click here for more information.