How Randolph 21 came about and what you can do to help!
On Feb. 22, 2016 I received an email through a service organization I belong to outlining a commemorative event on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 to honor our nation's Vietnam Veterans. I asked to be the point of contact for Randolph county in the DoD United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, an ongoing program to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War. My first event was to create a Proclamation signed by the County Board of Commissioners proclaiming March 29, 2016 as Vietnam Veterans Day in Randolph County. It was important the Proclamation pay homage to those that were killed in the war as well as letting those that survive know we have not forgotten their sacrifice. I wrote the Proclamation, and since I am not originally from Randolph County I wanted to insure that no names of the fallen were missing from the list. I used the DoD database, searching by county in the Home of Record and came up with 18 names. I published them in pre-event news release, and the calls began coming in my list wasn't complete. Not calls from family as I would have expected but from friends of the deceased, school friends. I ended up with 22 names on the final Proclamation. These names were missing because they have an incorrect Home of Record in the DoD database. After the signing I looked at the original 18 names, and one of them is wrong. One man, PFC William Colegate, is not from Randolph County. In fact he's never lived in Illinois although his name is now listed on the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Wall, again because of an incorrect Home of Record. He's from Montgomery City, MO, born and raised. This brings me to my request. I would like to know if I have your support because I have a plan to right this wrong. My plan is to ask our Federal legislators to support this initiative to have changes made to these incorrect Homes of Record through the participation of the DoD Archival Record Department, and enlist the help of genealogists from all across the country in the hope of making this a National Initiative, County by County, to research how many of these records are wrong and get them corrected while there are still men and women that can bear witness to these lives. We need to do it now while there are still men and women that can bear witness to the lives of the men that gave everything for our freedom, and I believe if we work together we can make this happen. We promised no man would be left behind but if we don't get these database errors fixed soon there will be no one to call attention to the fact they've been left off the future lists of honor and these heroes will be lost to local history. They paid too big a price for us to allow this to happen. If you agree, please use the "contact" form with your story on why this needs to happen. I'll share it with the people that can help us get this done. Together we'll insure these men are never forgotten.