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Davis Journal

Fifth graders pay respect to those whose names are on Vietnam Memorial Wall

May 23, 2024 08:08AM ● By Becky Ginos

LAYTON—Layton Elementary fifth graders have only read stories of the Vietnam War in their history books. Last week, though, they had a chance to look for the names of actual soldiers who died in the war on a field trip to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Layton. The replica of the wall in Washington, D.C. was dedicated in 2018 and has more than 58,000 names on it. The children researched the names of those killed and picked one to learn more about and to find their name on the wall.

Jim and Linda Crismer and other veterans talked to the kids and gave them some facts about the wall and also the War Dog statue that sits near it. The Crismers had two war dogs with them that became the crowd favorites.

“Jeli is a narcotics detection dog,” said Linda. “Her job was to find illegal drugs that terrorists were selling to finance their attacks. She was in Kuwait for four years. We’ve had her for six years.”

Fighter the biter is an old dog, she said. “He’s over 12 years old. He served in Turkey for nine years. He was an explosion detection dog.”

The statue to honor the dogs is of the first war dog Mazzie who worked in Kuwait and was adopted by the Crismers. “There were about 5,000 dogs in Vietnam that served with American soldiers,” said Linda. “About 300 dogs were killed while serving, the rest were classified as equipment and were not brought back, 4,500 dogs were abandoned in Vietnam.”

If the dogs hadn’t been there there’d be 10,000 more names on the wall, she said. “This is a memorial to the dogs who died to save America.”

This was a combined effort of all of the fifth grade teachers, said Layton Elementary teacher Jamie Hammmerschmidt. “I had visited the Washington, D.C. memorial and I wanted to let the kids see that. It’s part of our curriculum in U.S. history. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to find a name and learn a little bit about them and to honor the veterans who keep us free.”

It’s so fun because one day Linda was here (at the park) she said. “She started talking to the kids and she’s been doing it ever since. It was just by chance.”

The class visits the Wall of Faces at and they pick some general information, said Hammmerschmidt. “It shows the panel line where their name is on the wall. The kids learn about the people that soldier served with and they get to know their personality a little.”

“Mine is on the 59th row,” said fifth grader Luke Dabb. “I feel joy because I have found something that is lost. I feel good when I find it. When I found out how he died it made my eyes get water in them.”

Dabb picked the soldier because he was born on the same day. “I wanted someone in the Navy. I went to the Vietnam Wall website and searched around,” he said. “I did an advance search for my own birthday on March 6 and I found him.”

It’s actually pretty cool, said Dabb. “We were able to take the time to appreciate the names of those who died. All dogs too. It wasn’t just humans.”

“I was talking to a group of kids by the statue one day,” said Linda. “Some jets flew over and I told them that was the sound of freedom. They started to applaud. They were patriotic. They got it. It’s been wonderful (teaching kids).”

The kids ended the visit by singing “Thanks to the Military.” “It was wonderful to see it,” said Jim. “The kids singing to the men on the wall – it was powerful.”