Nearly 300 people who were killed in action during the Vietnam War are now among thousands more entered into the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, seven years after the effort began.
News that 280 names were added to the Hall of Honor came Friday morning in front of the Purple Heart Memorial in Buffalo's Naval and Military Park, coinciding with National Purple Heart Day.
It is, according to officials, the largest number of names submitted to the Hall at once.
The 280 names were entered after years spent by a group of local veterans working with Congressman Brian Higgins' office to obtain the records verifying each individual. They are also featured on the Vietnam Memorial wall located just a few yards away from the Purple Heart memorial along Buffalo's waterfront.
"On our memorial there are 506 names," said Vietnam veteran Jack Michel, who led the effort to get the names added to the Hall of Honor. "Of the 506, 335 were verified as killed in action during the Vietnam War. We have now 280 of them into the Hall of Honor."
The remaining named, Michel said, could be added to the Hall once records verifying their status are secured.
The Purple Heart dates back to the days of General Washington. More than 350,000 were awarded to Vietnam veterans alone.
"When you serve with people, when you sweat with them, you cry with them, you bleed with them, a bond is created like no other in human history," said fellow Vietnam veteran Dr. Patrick Welch, past president of the Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 77. "Jack took this project on and put his heart and soul into making sure that these men were recognized."