Daughter inducts father into Vietnam honor rolls
CARIBOU, Maine — Malena (Michaud) Felix attended the Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors ceremony on June 15 in Washington, D.C., to honor her father, Joseph “Junior” Michaud of Caribou.
The event honors veterans of the Vietnam war who died after returning home as a result of exposure to Agent Orange or injury sustained while in Vietnam. This year over 500 Vietnam veterans were inducted into this prestigious national memorial, and each year the organization reads the names of all of the 4,000-plus alumni who have been inducted in prior ceremonies.
Felix said Michaud served in the Army and in Vietnam from 1968-1969. Raised in northern Maine, he entered the Army in 1967 and was initially sent to serve in Europe; however, once in Germany, he volunteered for service in Vietnam and was immediately sent to join the his fellow soldiers in Vietnam.
While in country Michaud served with distinction. It was not until years later after returning to the States that he realized he had brought the war home with him. Initially, he was diagnosed with diabetes, which he fought to control every day, but his exposure to Agent Orange during his tour of duty in Vietnam continued to plague him, which led to a determination of 100 percent disability and a cancer diagnosis.
Michaud fought a courageous battle against pancreatic cancer, which eventually took his life at the young age of 58. Felix said he will always be remembered as a guy who could make you laugh with a heart as big as a mountain.
“It was such a great moment to see my father’s memory and the guys like my father being recognized for their service in Vietnam,” said Felix, “and even though it was emotional for all, I was so proud to know that nobody is forgetting their sacrifices and battles they fought during and after the war.”
The number of names is expected to grow dramatically over the next couple of years as more and more veterans lose their battle against cancers attributed to the effects of their service in Vietnam.
The induction ceremony takes place overlooking the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, joining those who died in Vietnam with those who lost their battles with cancer after they came home. A sea of more than 2,000 blue memorial shirts with the names of the 2019 inductees could be seen at the Vietnam Wall.
During the ceremony, family members, some visibly holding back tears, read their loved ones’ names and shared when and how they served. People could be seen hugging one another, many of whom had met for the first time that day.
Each family received a certificate with their honoree’s picture and a yearbook including all the inductees, who now are members of the memorial wall. Millions of visitors each year will see their stories and help honor their service.
Anyone who knows of someone who served in Vietnam and died as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, and/or as a result of their service in Vietnam, can apply to have them honored at the next induction ceremony in June 2020. For information, visit www.vvmf.org.