Timothy Albert Kasmiskie
Sergeant, United States Armu
Albert Kasmiskie, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, on 5 November 1947. He
served bravely in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and during
his service there, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star
Medal and four awards of the Purple Heart Medal. He died on 8 April
2003 and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemeery.
Vietnam vets from state honored
They survived war, but died later from effects
By JONATHAN O'CONNELL
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Washington, D.C. - Vietnam War veterans who died prematurely as a result of their service were remembered by friends and relatives in a ceremony Monday on the National Mall.
Of the 137 veterans being honored - including seven from Wisconsin - many died from cancer associated with Agent Orange, an herbicide used to destroy jungle foliage in Vietnam, or under emotional duress because of their experiences in the war.
Richard C. Schneider, executive director for government affairs for the Non Commissioned Officers Association, an advocacy group that sponsored the ceremony, praised the courage and resilience of families whose loved ones suffered for years as a result of their service.
"When I think of these patriots, I think of a group of people whose war didn't end in Vietnam," Schneider said. "The war didn't end for them for years."
Though the ceremony overlooked the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Department of Defense reserves inscriptions on the memorial for the names of those who died or went missing as a result of combat - a designation it does not extend to those who later contracted health problems connected to Agent Orange or emotional trauma.
Deceased veterans remembered at annual "In Memory Day" events, of which Monday's was the seventh, are honored by a 2-foot-by-3-foot stone plaque a few hundred feet from the memorial.
Loved ones read their honoree's name aloud and place a printed tribute to the person along the memorial's wall. More than 1,500 veterans have been so honored thus far, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the event's organizer.
The seven Wisconsinites honored were all veterans of the U.S. Army:
• Charles Acton Billing, Williams Bay
Schmitz served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970 before dying of Agent Orange-related cancer in April 2001. He was 53.
His wife, Virginia Lee Schmitz, recalled meeting him when she was 13 and they were growing up in Menomonee Falls. An employee of Briggs & Stratton for more than 20 years after his military discharge, Schmitz loved collecting cars and exploring the outdoors. Even after an April 2000 biopsy showed he had lung cancer, she brought him to their cabin every weekend, oxygen tank and medications in tow.
The cancer spread quickly, though, and a year to the day after his diagnosis, Virginia Schmitz and their son Eric threw Schmitz a sort of going-away party, complete with his favorite music, oldies. At the party, she said, "I gave him permission - it was OK to leave us."
"He went out with a smile," said Eric Schmitz,
who also was at the ceremony. "He did not once show his pain, and he did
not ever give up until we said goodbye to him."
Photos Courtesy of Holly, April 2006