Family of Punxsy veteran KIA in Vietnam re-opens history through comrade’s connection

(Editor's Note: In this piece submitted by Peggy Anthony, the Punxsy woman details a bit more of the history of her nephew, Private Thomas W. Steele, who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Steele's remains were returned to Pennsylvania in 2005 and buried with his mother in the Perry Memorial Cemetery in Frostburg. His name is on the Vietnam Monument in Barclay Square.

At that point, it appeared as if the story had come to a close, but recent developments have added chapters to that story, and here, Anthony tells some more before going into a sidebar on how these new details came about.)

It is 45 years since the story about Lieutenant Joe Walters and Thomas W. Steele took place in the middle of a rice paddy on Sept. 11, 1968. Sept. 11 is a date that is chiseled into the American soul and will not be forgotten, and for the Marines and Corpsmen of the Marine Mike Company, this date has a double meaning. On that day, there were eight killed in action (KIA) and many others wounded.

Lieutenant Joe Walters was one who survived: "I thought about some of the men who didn't make it, especially Private (Thomas) Steele, my radioman. We were hit at the same time, and Tommy died right away," Walters said. "I have many fond memories of him and miss him, but in saying that, I also look at today as a day of celebration. We had a bond that held us together even to this day. I cherish those memories."

Read the full story in Wednesday's edition of The Spirit.