Ceremony salutes soldier’s sacrifice

Published 7:07 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying ‘Whom shall I send,and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me'” -Isaiah 6:8

Brookhaven’s Capt. Daniel Day Entrican went missing in action inVietnam in 1971, but there’s still a table reserved for him at thehead of the room.

The small table is covered with a white cloth, symbolizing thepurity of his call to arms. A lone candle reminds of his solidarityin captivity, and its black ribbon symbolizes his loss. Entrican’sglass is turned upside down because he isn’t there to raise a toastwith his friends.

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His boots are polished and waiting on the floor.

“His chair is empty, he is not here,” said Janet Sullivan, aliaison with the Military Order of the Purple Heart, as sheconcluded an MIA-POW ceremony for Entrican.

Sullivan’s solemn tribute was the apex of a ceremony inEntrican’s honor held Tuesday night at Brookhaven VFW Post 2618,the Daniel Day Entrican Post, 39 years to the day since the SpecialForces commando was last seen trying to escape and evade the enemyin Vietnam. The Mississippi National Guard sent an honor guard forthe fallen warrior, a team from the U.S. Army’s 20th Special ForcesGroup came to pay their respects and more than 50 veterans, familyand friends gathered in his remembrance.

Most importantly, the program gave comfort to Entrican’srelatives, who have spent almost four decades wondering whathappened to their brother. The VFW presented them with a plaquebearing Daniel Entrican’s picture, information and many medals andawards.

“This is the first time anything like this has been done forDanny,” said Brookhaven’s Jenny Watson, Entrican’s sister. “We allappreciate it so much, and he would have been real proud ofit.”

Watson, 66, is still waiting for complete closure. She and hersister, Jackson’s Judy Kirkpatrick, 75, were briefed by the U.S.Department of Defense last year on the government’s ongoing effortto recover the remains of servicemen listed as MIA from the VietnamWar, which began more than 45 years ago.

Watson is hopeful her missing brother’s final fate can beascertained. She still wears his MIA-POW bracelet.

“I don’t want to take it off until we have complete closure,”she said.

Brookhaven’s Greg Entrican, 52, never quite knew his distantcousin, but he knows his heroics. He came to Tuesday night’sceremony to pay his respects to his kin and continue learning aboutDaniel Entrican’s service.

“It makes me proud to be an American, and proud that I havefamily who gave it all,” he said.

It was the impact Post 2618 Cmdr. Billy Hughes was hoping forwhen, months ago, he began planning Entrican’s ceremony toofficially dedicate the building that bears his name.

“What really struck me is how the family responded,” he said.”It let them know people still care about those who gave everythingthey had for the country.”

Entrican gave everything he had in the thick jungle on May 8,1971, 39 years to the day before the ceremony in his honor.

He was a member of Recon Team Alaska, a highly skilled SpecialForces group attached to the covert Military Assistance Command,Vietnam – Studies and Observation Group. Entrican’s team wasinserted into the Da Krong Valley on May 15, 1971, and wasoverwhelmed by North Vietnamese Army forces near the Laotian bordertwo days later.

With squadmates killed and wounded, Entrican ordered theremainder of his force to move out while he held his ground. He waslast seen on May 18, 1971, and sources reported the capture of anAmerican in the vicinity on that date, though there’s no way ofknowing whether or not it was Entrican. Search and rescue attemptsdid not succeed.

In 1991, the U.S. Senate released the “Last Known Alive List” ofmore than 300 MIA-POWs believed to be alive in captivity.Entrican’s name was on the list, though all have been declareddeceased.

Lt. Col. (ret) Don Taylor of Crystal Springs delivered thekeynote address at Entrican’s ceremony, closing with a short storyabout a man crying at the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. In thestory, the man was asked, ‘Was one of them yours,’ and heresponded, ‘No, son, all of them are mine.’

“Capt. Entrican and all the rest are all ours, yours and mine,and will be so for all eternity,” Taylor said.