Families of Fallen Viet Nam Heroes Lt. Kenneth A. Shannon & Sp5 Wyley Wright Jr. Remember 50 Year Sacrifice
"Shannon Wright" was the banner for many years over the archway into Vinh Long, the U.S. Army base in South Viet Nam. The families of the fallen heroes finally met as the four adult children of Sp5 Wyley Wright and Ouida F. Wright, had their father & mother reburied at Arlington National Cemetery a day after 50th and 44th anniversaries of their parents' passing into eternity. After surprisingly finding an Internet post by Shannon's widow, the Wrights invited Ginger Shannon Young to join them.
By: Armstrong Media Services
Media Contact: Kelly Armstrong, 415 525 0410
Lynchburg, Virginia- Just days after helping with the memorial celebration of Sp5 Wyley Wright Jr. and “the wife of his youth,” Ouida Fay McLendon Wright on March 10th at Arlington, National Cemetery, Ginger Shannon Young made her way to The Viet Nam War Memorial, “The Wall” to honor her first husband, Lieutenant Kenneth A. Shannon, a 25 year-old helicopter pilot, who died on March 15, 1964 survived by a young wife and two small children, just five days after arriving in Viet Nam and six days after Wright’s death as a helicopter crew chief and Honor Guard for then Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara.
With less than three weeks notice, Ginger Shannon Young, who had little knowledge of Sp5 Wyley Wright other than the fact that he shared the banner “Shannon Wright Compound” at the entrance of the Vinh Long, South Viet Nam army base with her first husband, accepted the invitation of Sp5 Wyley Wright’s four children to attend the reburial of their parents at Arlington National Cemetery.
“It is so amazing that we found each other,” said Jackie Wright of San Francisco, Sp5 Wright’s oldest daughter, who was ten years old at the time of her father’s death. “It’
The mother and grandmother, was key to the Wright’s memorial celebration in that she connected them with her daughter Laura Shannon McDaniel, who helped locate “The Church at Clarendon” where the Wrights could hold a worship service since Arlington National Cemetery’s Chapel was not available.
“As I told Jackie and her siblings, we’re all family and always have been, although we’ve just met for the first time at the memorial of their parents,” said Mrs. Shannon Young. “Laura was delighted to make the connection with one of her dear friends, Reverend Jim Johnson, pastor of The Church at Clarendon.”
The Wrights decided to have their father exhumed from a segregated cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida when during a family reunion July4th weekend 2012 they found out the cemetery was not well kept and not indicative of the sacrifice Sp5 Wright made by laying down his life for his country.
The occasion of the memorial, not only brought the Wrights in touch with Mrs. Shannon Young, it also put them in touch with George Moll, who was 19 years old at the time he served with career soldier and family man, Wright. Moll of Houston, Texas said for fifty years he had wanted to get in touch with the Wright family to tell them what a great soldier and man he was, but didn’t know how. “Everyone wanted to ride in Wyley’s helicopter because it was always so well-maintained. He was a perfectionist and a hard worker. He gave me great advice as a young man,” Moll told the Wright Family.
“It was great running into George and his wife Diana, “ said Mrs. Shannon Young, who had met them several years ago at a reunion for the 114th (One-Fourteenth)
Mrs. Shannon Young’s visit to “The Wall” for the 50th Anniversary of her first husband’s death included her daughter Laura and one of her grandsons. Both grandsons were planning to attend, but the tension in the Ukraine seems to have had a bearing on Mrs. Shannon Young’s grandson who is a PFC in the Marines ability to attend.
Having met the Commanding Officer for the 114th thirty-one years after Lieutenant Shannon’s death, Ginger Shannon married George J. Young, seven years after they met. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Young, who died 18 months after their marriage, is also buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“As I touched Kenneth's etched name, I also reached above and touched your dad's name and thanked them for loving serving, and protecting us with their military service. Another glorious day of honoring and remembering,”
In an initial email response to Sp5 Wright’s daughter, Jackie’s invitation, Mrs. Shannon Young expressed the importance of honoring the country’s fallen heroes.
“Laying the wreaths at Arlington, at Christmas, is an awesome and moving experience. The volunteers doing so have taken quantum leaps! My first year doing so, there were about 3-4000. It has grown to about 15-20,000! The number of wreaths has leaped as well, about 40-50,000 five years ago to over 150,000 this past year. It is a beautiful sight seeing our loved ones so honored. Your dad and mom will receive this honor this year ... I will make sure of that!”…Ginger Shannon Young.
For decades, the Wright children had no idea that their father was honored with the “Shannon Wright” banner over the archway into the Vinh Long, South Viet Nam army base. As they looked at their father’s name on the “Wall,” on panel 1E, line 46, they had no idea that Lieutenant Kenneth A. Shannon listed at line 47 was in any way connected with their family history.
“The impact of war on families was all too obvious to us as not only did our father die, March 9, 1964, a young soldier by name of John Francis Shea, twenty days from his 21st birthday also died as an honor guard for McNamara in that helicopter crash. We found Shea’s name several years ago on the Internet in the Gold Book, but it was several years after that that we found out about the “Shannon Wright” banner, said the youngest Wright brother, Stanley Wright of Orangeburg, SC.
From now on, March 15th will be a day the Wrights will also honor, as they have met Ginger Shannon Young and now know a little more of their history.
Mrs. Shannon Young, “a hugger as she says,” has now been embraced as part of the Wright Family thanks to an occasion that they would not have believed possible a few years ago. As Jackie prophetically stated for the 2010 Family Reunion in San Francisco in honor of their father and mother, “we are all in each other’s family album.”
For other background on the Wright Family’s journey of honor, see the following links:
Love Separated In Life…Love Reunited in Honor
Viet Nam War Hero Sp5 Wyley Wright Exhumation from Segregated Cemetery
Florida Times Union
Sp5 Wyley Wright’s Wife, Ouida Fay McLendon Wright Exhumation, Columbus, GA
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