Veterans’ advocate named to national Vietnam memorial board

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GREENFIELD — A longtime advocate who has worked on behalf of Vietnam War veterans for years is taking his passion to the leadership of a national organization.

David Hine has been appointed to a four-year term on the board of directors of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the nonprofit organization that founded the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1982. The fund also leads several other initiatives for Vietnam War veterans and their families while working to educate all generations on the impact of the war.

“It was an honor to be considered and voted in, but it was a complete surprise and shock also,” said Hine, a Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force, from which he retired in 1990 after 20 years.

In 2005 and 2019, Hine helped bring to Greenfield The Wall That Heals, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s mobile replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. He’s helped find photos for the organization’s Wall of Faces, an initiative that commits to finding photos to go with each of the over 58,000 names on the memorial. His late brother-in-law, Vietnam War veteran Charles Murnan III, is part of the fund’s In Memory Program, which includes a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and an online personal remembrance page for honorees.

“I just try to promote anything that they’re doing because I think it’s a great organization,” Hine said. “We got to make sure we don’t forget our Vietnam veterans.”

Hine helped create the Hancock County Veterans Park in 2010 in downtown Greenfield. Last year, at his request, the city funded several Agent Orange remembrance banners that hung downtown on and near Agent Orange Remembrance Day on Aug. 10, which will return this year as well.

Hine had high school classmates killed in the Vietnam War.

“Many of my friends from that era are Vietnam veterans,” he said. “And now it seems like more of my friends are dying of Agent Orange cancer. A lot of people don’t know about Agent Orange cancer, and we need to spread the word about that.”

U.S. forces spread the chemical in Vietnam to defoliate areas the enemy used as cover and to destroy their subsistence crops. The herbicide was later linked to a host of medical complications, including several cancers.

Hine was in Franklin a few weeks ago to see The Wall That Heals during its visit there and spoke with Jim Knotts, president and CEO of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, who asked if he’d like to be considered for a board position. Hine said he would, and Knotts called him in late June to congratulate him on his appointment.

Hine joins four other new members on the 15-member board, which meets quarterly. He said most of the members are Vietnam War veterans, Operation Enduring Freedom veterans or Gold Star daughters who lost parents during their service in the military.

“So to be picked is a huge honor,” Hine said.

Alan Buckelew of Los Angeles, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Board of Directors’ new chairman, welcomes Hine and the other appointees.

“They each have strong connections to the Vietnam era and the ongoing mission of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund,” Buckelew said in a news release. “As volunteer board members, they are committing their time to ensuring younger generations remember the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans and learn the lessons of that divisive time in our nation’s history.”

The board’s responsibilities include helping lead the organization’s mission of spreading awareness and education of the Vietnam War and its veterans, leading strategic planning, monitoring programs, reviewing past activities and making recommendations for the future.

“I think everybody knows that those that returned from Vietnam were treated very, very badly, so we want to make sure that never happens again,” Hine said. “We want to educate them about the war, the ramifications and the results of the war.”