Remembering and honoring Vietnam vets

One the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial walls came to Salem this week and old friend Adrian Cronauer was there to speak and to find the name of Thomas L. Waterman on the monument.

Tommy Waterman was a friend of many of us back in the 60s when he went into the military and became an armed force DJ, much like Cronauer, whose time there was the subject of “Good Morning Vietnam.”

Waterman died when a fighter jet crashed into the building that contained his radio station studio in Thailand. He was 25.

Cronauer, after he left the Air Force, came to Roanoke and was manager of the then new Channel 27. He later went to law school, worked in law in Washington, DC, and served in the Pentagon on prisoner of war issues.

Adrian and I met during his time in Roanoke and we worked together on a Showtimers production shortly before I left to take a new reporting job in Illinois.

He and his wife, Jean, were friends of both Amy and I and they lived in the same condo building in Arlington until 2004, when we left as part of my return to Floyd.

In 2002, Amy and I were wrapping up her mother’s estate in Belleville, IL, outside of St. Louis when the traveling wall came to nearby Fairview Heights and the speaker this, as now, was Adrian. We shot a short documentary on the visit. We were tied up Wednesday and I was also hobbled by a bad ankle sprain so I pulled up the old documentary to use here to remember that day from 2002.

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