Monday, September 24, 2012

Shane's Story

For months we chronicled the story of Donald Woodward McNamara, his death in Viet Nam, our discovery of the photos from cousin Marv and niece Amber, the shocking appearance of a son who did not know his father.

Recently his son Shane was asked to write his story for a local newspaper and we've asked to reprint it here as well.
Memorial Day, 2012 - Marv Everhart, cousin of Donald McNamara,
presents the wreath laid in his honor to Shane Edgar, Donald's son.
My story,
When I was twelve years old, I realized I don’t look like my brother and sister. I was told that my father died in Vietnam and I had been adopted by the man I called Dad. Satisfied for the moment, I knew that my parents loved me and that was all that I needed to know.
A few years passed and I asked my mother again.  This time she gave me his name, Donald McNamara.  The name sat in my heart, and in time I looked for more information about this mystery man.  No one seemed to know him, and my mother said little.
Over the past few years it has become more important for me to find my roots and solve the mystery. As a father myself I began to look at things differently.   Increasingly I wanted to get more information about my roots.  
After my 45 birthday last March, I was in a church group on a Wednesday night asking questions of the people in the group. How should I be thinking about my father and the lack of information I had?  Were my feelings of being lost and confused about this man okay? Or should I find out more?  How?
After the meeting a member came to me to tell me she and her mother had been studying genealogy and she wondered if she could get dad’s full name so she could research it. I gave it to her thinking she would run into dead ends like I had.
The next week she came to see me with information she’d gotten off the Internet.  A group of people from Northwood, IA, preparing for a 50th Class Reunion were emailing each other.  One of the emails told of a Virtual Wall replicating the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, where every American who died in that war was recognized.
They were surprised to discover a Donald McNamara died in that war – and was the only casualty listing Northwood, IA, as his hometown.  None of the Class of ’62 knew him since he transferred in a year after they left.
A search led to Nancy, who had graduated three years later.  She was a good friend of Donald’s, had taken long walks with him, and recalled him as a good-looking guy.  She was able to fill in more blanks, pictures were found, and the story was posted in a blog created for that Class of ’62 , the same information given to me by my friend from the church group.
I emailed the blogger more questions.  He answered what he could, and then asked “What is your interest in Donald?” I replied by email and said, I have been told he is my father.
The blogger called immediately. The door was opened, and for the next few days I was getting information on him daily and at times hourly. Not even a week went by and we were talking of getting together with the Northwood people to discuss an overwhelming amount of information, and meet family, for the first time ever.
There are few of the family left. Donald’s twin brother, Ronald, passed away about 18 months after Donald in a car accident. The boys had a half-sister (Deb) who lost a battle with cancer.  My grandparents had passed also. Donald’s cousin Marv (who escorted his body back from Vietnam) lives in the Northwood area.  Deb has a daughter Amber, my cousin, who lives in Albert Lea, MN, with a daughter Vanessa, and that’s it.
We gathered in Northwood and the stories of Donald flew about the room. Mostly I recall what others tell me about this day, that Marv said when I broke the plane of the door, “Oh my God, Its Donnie!”  Those words will always be held close to my heart. Yes, I belong and I know he really is my Father.
 He is a father to be very proud of, a Marine who died in a six hour gun fight in Nam. He was manning an M-60 and his squad had broken off from him. They tried several time to regain the ground but Donald gave his life to protect others in the field, taken out by mortar fire. Several of his squad did not come back to camp that day.
In conversation with those who served with him, my father Donald was a Marine’s Marine, a great leader in the field. He was kind and gentle when needed and tough as nails when the moment called for it, as my wife has described me. That sounds like a great man who has left me with a great gift. I believe he would be proud of me and would love and cherish his grandchildren. Thanks DAD for giving me life so I can carry on your name.

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