Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Vietnam veteran with name on The Wall had to prove he was still alive

Missing and memorialized, a Vietnam veteran was found

The Augusta Chronicle
By Bill Kirby
Posted May 26, 2019
The former master sergeant went back to Hawaii and lived quietly until his death in 2007.

His name remains on the Vietnam memorial with 32 others that have been “mistakenly engraved,” a spokesman said last week in an e-mail. However, they no longer qualify for the honor, nor are they officially acknowledged.

A Vietnam soldier presumed dead and mourned by his family turned up in 1996.

As Memorial Day 1993 approached, engravers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington prepared to add the name of Master Sgt. Mateo Sabog to the wall.

A 24-year Army veteran with a spotless record, Sabog had disappeared in February 1970 while assigned to the 507th Transportation Group in Qui Nhon, South Vietnam, and was presumed dead.

For a quarter century his family in Hawaii pressed the Army for answers. U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye got involved, as did U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink. Sabog’s mother wrote the president of North Vietnam asking help. President Jimmy Carter was also asked.

Nothing happened, however, and in 1993 Sabog’s name joined thousands who had died in the war. The government of Vietnam even returned remains it believed to be him.

But he wasn’t dead.

Three years after his name was placed on the memorial, the frail 73-year-old sat in Fort Gordon’s Eisenhower Army Medical Center struggling to tell both the Army and his family what he had been doing the past 26 years.
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