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Victor Tarasuk

Rachel, WV, US

U.S. Marine Corps


12/22/1966, Quang Nam, South Vietnam

My name is Andy Kolb, and I am writing to you because my wife Shelia lost her cousin in Vietnam. Your portraits seem to deeply touch each family. I know that Victor had nothing to do with the war on terror, but I was hoping as a fellow Vietnam Veteran that you could help her out. Victor was only 19 years old when he lost his life shortly after beginning his tour, but his life was full up until that day.

You see, Shelia’s family and Victor’s family never got along, but for some reason, Victor really watched out for his little cousin. Shelia told me a story of being 9 or 10 years old and gathering candy on halloween. Before she could get home with her treasures, some bullies made-off with her candy and she returned home empty and upset. Victor then took it upon himself to go back out and trick-or-treat his way to a full bag of goodies for Shelia. Victor was constantly sticking up for her and even though he wasn’t allowed to come to her house, time-after-time he would show up to play with her and Skip (Shelia’s brother). I believe it takes a special kind of person to disobey his parents when he knows he is right.

Victor then enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 19 years old. When he was 20 years old, he was sent to Quang Nam and was killed by an unknown type of land mine. Victor’s remains were shipped back to the states and picked up at the Grafton Train Station here in West Virginia. Shelia’s family went to pick him up, but she was not allowed to see him. Shelia has not been able to have closure on the loss of her beloved Cousin Victor. He is buried in a cemetery just outside of the town in which we live, and as we pass by; at times, she will mention that he is up there some where pointing towards the plots. Shelia still considers him Missing In Action as opposed to Killed In Action. On one of our earlier anniversaries, I surprised Shelia by taking her to Washington D.C. to find Victor’s name on the Wall. She had never been there; and I thought it would help her a little, so I told her to pack a picnic basket and that I was taking her somewhere she will love. Fifty miles after leaving the house and after being on the interstate, I finally caved in and told her where we were going… she cried for miles. So, we got to the wall and to the block he was listed on, and before I could get my camera out… his name jumped out to her and she kinda broke down. After a few minutes, I retrieved the picnic basket from the car and we proceeded to eat lunch with the memory of her cousin. I never did meet Victor, but from what she has told me, he seemed like a real stand-up guy.


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