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Carl Dennis Wadleigh
Specialist 4, United States Army
New Jersey State Flag
Full Name: CARL DENNIS WADLEIGH
Date of Birth: 20 December 1946 
Date of Casualty: 31 May 1968
Home of Record: NORTH BERGEN, NEW JERSEY
Branch of Service: ARMY 
Rank: SPECIALIST 4


Finally, vet can rest in peace
Mis-ID'd after death in Vietnam, Wadleigh to get proper burial
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Thirty-six years after military brass mistakenly labeled Army Specialist 4th Class Carl Wadleigh of Jersey City, New Jersey, a Vietnam deserter, Wadleigh's five siblings are set to gain a long overdue measure of exoneration for him.

Tomorrow, with all the pomp and circumstance of a full military funeral, Wadleigh's remains will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

"We are anticipating closure and yet have to let go of the dream that (Carl) is going to come home one day," said Michelle Wadleigh, Carl's sister.

Carl Wadleigh's parents - Clifford Sr. and Mary - died several years before Army officials reversed their conclusions about their youngest son.

Michelle Wadleigh, who lives in Florham Park, said several extended family members planned to attend the funeral and the Army is paying for the siblings' airfare.

In addition to Michelle, Carl Wadleigh's siblings are: Myrtle Lovero of Cape May, Maryjane Kweselait of Branchville, Margaret Radlinger of Black Hawk, South Dakota and Clifford Wadleigh Jr. of Jersey City.

The Jersey Journal revealed in an article published in March that in 1972, Army officials mistook Wadleigh's remains for another soldier who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1968.

When they couldn't account for his whereabouts after 1968 - the year the other soldier died in battle - the military concluded that Wadleigh went Absent Without Leave.

Army brass carried out a search for Wadleigh in this country, visiting his parents at their North Bergen home and some of his siblings.

Army officials didn't reverse their conclusion until 1989, when, equipped with more effective methods for examining forensic evidence, they definitively identified a new set of remains received from Vietnam as that of Master Sergeant Frank Parrish, the soldier they confused with Wadleigh 1972.

They then exhumed from a Texas grave site the remains previously thought to be Parrish, and eventually figured out that those were Wadleigh's, who had died at 21.

Military officials contacted Wadleigh's siblings in November 2001 to take blood samples to compare DNA. In February, family members were told the Texas remains were Wadleigh's and, given the circumstances of his death, the military was convinced he died fighting.

Army officials told family members they still believe Wadleigh disappeared from his unit for 13 days in 1968, having taken off with a Vietnamese girlfriend.

On May 31, 2004, Memorial Day, Wadleigh's name will be attached to the Vietnam memorial rock at Pershing Field in Jersey City, said David Cline, president of the Jersey City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee.

Born and raised in North Bergen, Wadleigh lived in Jersey City before he was drafted into the Army in 1964, a family member said.

His name will be the 65th added to the Pershing Field rock, Cline said.

Family members said his name will also be attached to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.


About-face: Army says GI died in action, not deserter
Published in the Asbury Park Press 9 March 2004 

JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY -- It's been nearly four decades since Army Specialist 4 Carl Wadleigh of Jersey City went missing during the war in Vietnam.

Unlike other soldiers in his company, judged to have fought bravely and died for their country, the former student of Jefferson Elementary School in North Bergen was branded a deserter.

After 36 years of living with this cloud hanging over their brother's reputation and military career and their family's name, Wadleigh's six surviving siblings were told last month that the Army had it wrong all along.

Military brass now believe that in 1968 Wadleigh, then 21, died fighting on behalf of his country in Vietnam's Ben Tre Province.

DNA tests have definitively proved, Army officials now say, that Wadleigh's remains had been confused with those of another soldier, Master Sergeant Frank Parrish, and were buried in Texas in 1973.

In a stark reversal, the Army now says Wadleigh is entitled to a full military funeral, and family members are planning for a burial in May 2004 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Just beginning to digest the Army's revised determination on their brother's disappearance, Wadleigh's siblings say they feel a sense of closure and vindication, but also anger and bewilderment that the government could get things so wrong for so long.

"I was shocked. I was glad it ended," said older brother Clifford Wadleigh Jr. of Jersey City, an ex-Navy medic who enlisted shortly before Carl was drafted in 1964. "It just felt like part of you was missing."

Carl's parents, Clifford Sr. and Mary, died in the 1980s without that closure. All they knew of their son's last days was what they had heard from FBI agents who visited them inquiring about their youngest son's whereabouts. They said that Carl had gone AWOL -- absent without leave.

"We all thought he was AWOL," said Michelle Wadleigh, another of Carl's sisters, a religious science teacher who lives in Florham Park. "That was the hard part. There was an absolute stigma.

With the history of their brother's service now officially rewritten, the kind of personal praise Michelle received about her brother from his fellow soldiers can now be bestowed publicly.

"He died a hero," she said.

This Memorial Day, Jaime Vazquez, Jersey City's director of Veterans Affairs, plans to attach Carl Wadleigh's name to the Vietnam memorial rock in Pershing Field that honors city residents killed in action.

Wadleigh's will be the 65th name affixed to the rock, Vazquez said. Michelle Wadleigh also wants her brother's name placed on the Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

"He served with dignity," she said. "He deserves to be there."


HE'S 'AWOL' NO LONGER

Army now admits decades-old error Hudson GI will get burial with honors
Saturday, March 6, 2004
By Ken Thorbourne
Journal staff writer

It's been nearly four decades since Army Specialist 4th Class Carl Wadleigh of Jersey City went missing during the war in Vietnam.

Unlike other soldiers in his company, judged to have fought bravely and died for their country, the former student of Jefferson Elementary School in North Bergen - his twin sister, Margaret, likens him to Matt Dillon, the handsome sheriff on TV's "Gunsmoke" - was branded a deserter.

After 36 years of living with this cloud hanging over their brother's reputation and military career and their family's name, Wadleigh's six surviving siblings were told last month that the Army had it wrong all along. Military brass now believe that in 1968 Wadleigh, then 21, died fighting on behalf of his country in Vietnam's Ben Tre province.

DNA tests have definitively proved, Army officials now say, that Wadleigh's remains had been confused with those of another soldier, Master Sergeant Frank Parrish, and were buried in Texas in 1973.

In a stark reversal, the Army now says Wadleigh is entitled to a full military funeral, and family members are planning for a burial in May 2004 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Just beginning to digest the Army's revised determination on their brother's disappearance, Wadleigh's siblings say they feel a sense of closure and vindication, but also anger and bewilderment that the government could get things so wrong for so long.

"I was shocked. I was glad it ended," said older brother Clifford Wadleigh Jr. of Jersey City, an ex-Navy medic who enlisted shortly before Carl was drafted in 1964. "It just felt like part of you was missing."

Carl's parents - Clifford Sr. and Mary - died in the 1980s without that closure. All they knew of their son's last days was what they had heard from FBI agents who visited them inquiring about their youngest son's whereabouts. They said that Carl had gone AWOL - Absent Without Leave.

"We all thought he was AWOL," said Michelle Wadleigh, another of Carl's sisters, a religious science teacher who lives in Florham Park. "That was the hard part. There was an absolute stigma."


Mistaken identity

The Army's reappraisal of Carl Wadleigh's status as a soldier began in 1989 when the Vietnamese government shipped boxes containing the remains of 21 U.S. soldiers to the United States, according to Lieuteant Colonel Col. Jerry O'Hara, a spokesman for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii.

With the emergence of mitochondrial DNA as an unassailable tool for identifying remains, military forensic experts were able to definitively identify one set of these remains as Master Sergeant Frank Parrish. The discovery was shocking because military officials were convinced they had already recovered and buried Parrish's remains.

Parrish, who worked as an adviser to a South Vietnamese strike force, was believed to have been the soldier found in 1972 alongside the body of Master Sergeant Earl Briggs, according to an account compiled in 1990 by the Homecoming II Project, an advocacy group for families of missing soldiers. Both men were killed in an ambush on January 16, 1968.

Military officials had based their identification of the remains on a comparison done with Parrish's picture and a toothless and jawbone-less skull.

There also was circumstantial evidence, said First Lieutenant Ken Hall, who works with O'Hara. Parrish was a medic, and a set of forceps had been found near the remains, he said.

Parrish's brother Johnnie had long rejected the forensic evidence the government had used to identify his brother, the Homecoming II report stated.

"The Pentagon informed Johnnie Parrish that he could accept it or reject it, but the identification was final," the account states, noting that Parrish's parents accepted the determination and eventually a reluctant Johnnie Parrish did, too.

As it turns out, Johnnie Parrish was right; the government was wrong.

In Parrish's grave

The definitive identification of Parrish in 1989 set in motion a series of events, beginning with the exhumation of the remains in the Texas grave. Then came the time-consuming process of figuring out who that man was.

"We went back to Ben Tre," the province where the remains initially believed to be Parrish had been found, O'Hara said.

"We also deduced who the person could be by process of elimination. Who was in the area? . It takes an awfully long time."

It was November 2001 before military officials contacted two of Carl Wadleigh's six siblings in New Jersey, asking for blood samples that could be used to compare DNA patterns with the remains unearthed in Texas.

Just last month, Army officials contacted family members and confirmed that the remains that had been buried in Texas were those of their brother Carl.

In a February 18, 2004, meeting with family members in the Branchville home of eldest sibling Maryjane, Army officials said they still believe Carl went AWOL, but not for as long as originally thought. Rather, they think he went AWOL for 13 days, having run off with a Vietnamese girlfriend.

Sent to a hospital near Saigon to undergo a procedure in 1968, Carl never showed up, Army officials said, according to Carl's siblings.

Army officials failed to return dozens of calls seeking verification of this account, which four siblings said they took away from the meeting.

Family members acknowledge that Carl had sent pictures home of a French Vietnamese woman he claimed to have married. Once, they said, he asked family members to raise $1,000 so he could send her to the United States.

Army officials told the family they now believe Carl returned to active duty sometime after his unexcused absence. He died fighting for his country, they said, and is entitled to a full military funeral, according to family members.

"He died a hero," Michelle Wadleigh said.

Family memories

Mary and Clifford Wadleigh Sr. began their family in Jersey City in the early 1930s, with the birth of Maryjane. In 1945, the family moved to North Bergen, where Carl and Margaret were born on December 20, 1946.

Without elaborating, Margaret, who now lives in Black Hawk, South Dakota, said family life was not happy, recalling that as kids she and Carl ran away from home. Carrying two bananas for sustenance, they got as far as a carnival park in Bayonne before tossing in the towel, Margaret remembered.

"We called home and my mom said we could take the rest of the day off" from school, Margaret recalled.

Clifford Jr. remembers swinging on trees in the hills of North Bergen with his younger brother.

Once, when a branch snapped, Clifford Jr. remembers shoving Carl out of harm's way, sparing him a steep fall.

"We were very close," Clifford said. "I saved his life once or twice as kids."

Carl never attended high school, family members said, and was living with relatives in Jersey City when he was drafted in 1964. He was shipped out to Vietnam in 1965.

The last family member to see Carl alive was first cousin Kenneth Wadleigh, a lifelong Jersey City resident who served with Carl in the Army's Ninth Infantry Division. Kenneth, now a supermarket manager in Fort Lee who remembers Carl as outgoing and interested in wrestling, said he never believed Carl went AWOL.

One reason for Kenneth's staunch belief is that he visited Carl in 1967 at a hospital near Saigon where Carl underwent treatment for a hernia he developed from carrying heavy artillery.

It not clear whether this is same hospital visit Army officials were referring to when they said Carl never showed up for an appointment in 1968. Kenneth is sure of the year, because it was the same year he finished his tour of duty and it was shortly after the visit that he heard family members mention that his cousin had gone AWOL.

"I would never believe it," Kenneth said. "I sat and talked to him for three hours, and that was the furthest thing from his mind. He wanted to do his job and go home."

Kenneth's theory on what happened to his cousin: "After he was discharged (from the hospital), I think he hitched a ride on a truck and (I believe) the truck was ambushed. . He was found right outside of base camp."

A soldier's reputation

Carl's service was also remembered positively by his fellow soldiers, according to Michelle Wadleigh, who attended a reunion of her brother's platoon five years ago.

"My brother had quite a reputation for being an incredible soldier," she said. "He carried heavy artillery rifles. . I know he didn't like it. I remember the letters, but I know he did what he had to do."

In the years since the Army classified Wadleigh as AWOL, the family's trials were more than emotional, they said.

Clifford Jr., who works as a security officer at City Hall, lost several jobs because of suspicions raised by federal agents visiting his workplace, mistaking him for his younger brother, he said.

And while Margaret is grateful for the sense of closure the identification of her brother's remains has brought, she isn't prepared to forgive the military its errors.

"I'm totally disappointed in the government," Margaret said. "Not knowing if he was dead or alive and finding him in someone else's grave. . It does give it some closure, but I am totally disappointed by the whole thing."

Clifford Jr., who spent his Navy years stateside, said he's come to peace with the Army's performance concerning his brother.

"They put us through a lot of hell saying this and that," he said. "But after 30 years they found my brother. They did their job."

Overdue honor

With the history of their brother's service now officially rewritten, the kind of personal praise Michelle received about her brother from his fellow soldiers can now be bestowed publicly.

This Memorial Day, Jaime Vazquez, Jersey City's director of Veteran Affairs, plans to attach Carl Wadleigh's name to the Vietnam memorial rock in Pershing Field that honors city residents killed in action.

Wadleigh's will be the 68th name affixed to the rock, Vazquez said.

Michelle Wadleigh also wants her brother's name placed on the Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

"He served with dignity," she said. "He deserves to be there."


 (Jersey City-WABC, March 9, 2004) The family of Carl Wadleigh of Jersey City tried not to believe for 36 years what the Army told them -- that Wadleigh was a deserter from the Vietnam War.

Carl Wadleigh PHOTO
There are few pictures of Carl Wadleigh. One shows him with a group of 
other soldiers, standing in the back, taken before he was listed 
as AWOL and labelled a deserter.

   Wadleigh's body has been found, mistakenly buried in someone else's grave.
Carl Wadleigh was anything but a deserter.

There are few pictures of Carl Wadleigh. One shows him with a group of other soldiers, standing in the back, taken before he was listed as AWOL and labelled a deserter.

Cliff Wadleigh, Carl's Brother: "It gives a bad name to the family. Your brother's a deserter ..."

But amid the chaos and the violence and the courage that took place in Vietnam, Carl Wadleigh has finally been recognized as a hero killed in action.

Ken Wadleigh, Carl's Cousin: "(I feel) relieved in a way, that there's a closing to it. But really hurt, for him."

Carl's cousin Kenneth also served in the Army in Vietnam, and was the last family member to see Carl alive. Ken had gone to visit Carl when he was a patient in a Vietnam hospital, following surgery for a hernia.

Ken Wadleigh: "He couldn't wait to get out of the hospital and go back to his unit, do his job and come home. Get out of there."

Carl did disappear for a matter of days, his family says he likely had a rendezvous with a Vietnamese woman he had fallen in love with. But he did return to duty, and was killed in an ambush.

But there was no record of his return, and his remains wound up being shipped home in 1972 with someone else's identity. Finally, the mixup was discovered in the late 80s.

But it wasn't until DNA testing confirmed it, that the Army corrected the mistake.

Cliff Wadleigh: "I don't care what the Army says, he was no deserter. I knew my brother."

The remains of Carl Wadleigh are still being held at a forensics center in Hawaii. They will soon be flown to Washington D.C., where late this spring he will be honored with a hero's burial at Arlington National Cemetery. 

And then further honors at Pershing Park in Jersey City, on Memorial Day.


Vietnam vet's name is finally added to Jersey City memorial 
June 03, 2004

The name of U.S. Army Specialist 4th Class Carl Wadleigh was added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rock at Pershing Field in Jersey City on Monday - continuing the restoration of a soldier's reputation.

Thirty-six years ago, Army officials branded Wadleigh, a former Jersey City resident, a deserter.

In 1989, however, equipped with more up-to-date methods of identifying remains, military officials realized they had confused Wadleigh's remains with those of another soldier 17 years earlier.

Prompted by the realization of this error, military officials learned that Wadleigh was killed in action in 1968. He was 21.

Military brass officially notified Wadleigh's siblings of their latest conclusions in February.

As part of a multi-pronged effort to make amends, Wadleigh's remains were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia three weeks ago in a full military funeral with his siblings and extended family gathered at the graveside.

Also last month, Wadleigh's name was added to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Wadleigh's six siblings have greeted the long overdue recognition of their brother's military service with mixed emotions.

On one hand, they now have a sense of closure, they say. On the other hand, some siblings still find it difficult to forgive the military for getting the story so wrong in the first place, especially since Wadleigh's parents died in the 1980s and had been given the strong impression that their son bolted in the heat of battle.

"We are glad it (the military funeral) happened," said Maryjane Kweselait, Wadleigh's oldest sister, who lives in Branchville. "It's given us closure. We are just sad our parents couldn't have lived to see it."

As the oldest sibling, Kweselait was presented the flag that adorned Wadleigh's coffin at the burial. She passed it along to Wadleigh's twin sister, Margaret Radlinger, who lives in Black Hawk, S.D.

"It's wonderful," Radlinger said of the recognition her brother has received. "It is a very emotional time. Myself, I broke down and cried a whole bunch (at the funeral). It was definitely a reality check that he is definitely gone."

Army officials also presented family members with several medals Wadleigh earned, including a Purple Heart.

Wadleigh's will be the 65th name placed on the granite rock memorial, said David Cline, president of the Jersey City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee.

Clifford Wadleigh, a brother of Carl's and a Jersey City resident and security guard at City Hall, and Michelle Wadleigh, a sister who lives in Florham Park, will take part in the event at Pershing Field, Cline said.

Carl Wadleigh grew up in North Bergen and lived for a time in Jersey City before he was drafted into the Army.

Sergio Lamboy, Jersey City's former fire director and a Vietnam veteran, spoke, along with Ramon Aponte, a Marine who recently returned from Iraq.

Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham, who died on May 25, was scheduled to speak at this and two other Memorial Day events - the annual Polish War Veterans breakfast and the Sgt. Joseph Anthony Association ceremony.

Jaime Vazquez, director of veteran affairs for the city and a former sergeant in the Marine Corps, spoke in place of Cunningham.

As did Carl Wadleigh.

Maureen Micke, Wadleigh's third-oldest sibling, who lives in South Carolina, said she feels "great" about the recognition her brother is receiving, but still finds it hard to accept how the Army treated her brother and family.

"I didn't appreciate that at all," Micke said of the Army's refusal to search for her brother in Vietnam. "I am content at this point that he's been found and gotten what he's deserved. I have a grandson who is heading to Iraq in a couple days. I hope he gets home alive."


WADLEIGH, CARL DENNIS
SP4   US ARMY
VIETNAM
DATE OF BIRTH: 12/20/1946
DATE OF DEATH: 05/31/1968
BURIED AT: SECTION 54  SITE 6
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Posted: 13 March 2004  Updated: 18 May 2004 Updated: 4 June 2004 Updated: 22 December 2005 Updated: 3 July 2007
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