Episode 105 – Richard Fitts Jr’s Family at The Wall that Heals
Richard Fitts Jr. and the Abington Color Guard
I had first met Richard Fitts Jr. when we were talking about his documentary 21 Years a Folded Flag. ( Episode 92 – 21 Years a Folded Flag ) This is a labor of love for a father he could not remember because SSgt Richard Fitts was killed in Laos during the Vietnam War. He reached out recently because he wanted me to meet the crew from the Abington VFW when the Fitts Family joined them to do the Colors Ceremony for The Wall that Heals.
One of the take aways from the film is how Abington, Massachusetts wrapped their arms around the Fitts family. I got a chance to see this in action for the ceremony. Richard, his mother Valerie and his son Austin joined the guys from the VFW for this special ceremony. I got to spend time with Richard talking about everything from Joe Satriani to bass guitar styles to aspects of parenthood. I enjoyed how Mrs. Fitts was the “den mother” for all the Abington VFW crew. It was more like a family event than anything else.
After the ceremony, Richard and his son Austin talked with me about the film. He is almost done with it. He was able to interview a General who in Richard’s view adds a lot to the project. There is a lot of movement going on with another entry into a film contest, and he is finalizing the sound.
Seeing a Gold Star family like the Fitts participate in the color guard brought a different kind feeling out in me. It shows that family in the military can mean those who haven’t served as well as those from different branches of service.
Abington VFW & Mrs Fitts – Richard Fitts Jr is on the far left
“Travis, get with Dennis Donahue, he escorted the Vietnam Wall that Heals to Weymouth.” Sometimes it goes just like that with my producer Keith Hayes aka Sinista1;) I knew the mobile Vietnam Veterans Wall was coming the Union Point, or what is locally known as South Weymouth Naval Air Station. I had already set Episode 103, so if I followed the schedule this podcast would have come out long after The Wall that Heals left Weymouth, MA. This was a problem because it could 10 or more years before this Wall came back. So Episode 103 and 104 dropped on the same day. The Wall that Heals is a mobile scaled down version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. and Dennis was part of a motorcycle escort from Canton, MA to Union Point in South Weymouth, MA.
Dennis served over two decades in the U.S. Army. He was deployed to Iraq and when he got out of the Army he had to adjust to civilian life. He missed the brotherhood and camaraderie of being in the Army and felt alone.
Around that time, Dennis got with the VA and 22Kill Boston to help him deal with his PTSD. He got help and started feeling better, and he was around people who cared about him. One of the ways Dennis gives back now is riding with the Patriot Guard Riders. The Patriot Guard Riders is an organization that does escorts, honor guard and funeral ceremonies for Veterans. We talked about how families and people in the community appreciate seeing the Patriot Guard Riders.
We both want everyone to go to The Wall That Heals while it is here. It is open 24 hours a day right now until Sunday, July 29th. I can’t wait to ride with Dennis and it is amazing how something like a motorcycle can help someone help someone else. Thank you for your service.
The Wall That Heals
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica & Mobile Education Center
Visits Union Point (South Weymouth Naval Air Stations) – Weymouth, MA