Like a sturdy sentinel, the black granite slab stands beside the Baltimore County Court House, screened from passing traffic by trees and plants that form what Capt. Arthur N. Rogers III, a disabled Vietnam veteran, calls "an open-air room where people can reflect."
The rectangular stone, or stele, is 6 feet tall. One side bears 141 names -- with another to be added -- of countians who died in the Vietnam War. The other side reads, "Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated to the citizens of Baltimore County who served their country in Southeast Asia, 1957-1975."
"This memorial honors the veterans, those men and women who came home, as well as those boys who didn't," said County Councilman Douglas B. Riley, head of the commission for the monument, which was dedicated yesterday with a window-rattling 21-gun salute.
Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America, wearing jungle greens with black berets, formed a color guard.
An emotional moment was the flyover by three Huey helicopters -- two gunships and a MedEvac, the air ambulance of Vietnam, with a Red Cross painted on the bottom -- flown by Vietnam veterans from the Air National Guard.
The crowd heard the unmistakable thump, thump, thump of their rotors before the choppers appeared overhead, and more than one veteran said the very sound raised goose bumps.
Adela Duff, 85, whose only son, Marine Cpl. Barry W. Duff, was killed May 21, 1966, outside Da Nang, found the memorial moving. "It tore me up a little," she said.
Barry Duff, who had just turned 21, was killed while laying down protective fire and rescuing wounded comrades, after being wounded himself. He was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross, which ranks just after the Medal of Honor.
His name is on "The Wall," the national memorial in Washington, with more than 58,000 other Vietnam dead. But having him honored locally "fills my heart," his mother said. "I just don't want him to be forgotten, and now those names will be there forever."
Relatives of five of the young men whose names are on the stone unveiled the memorial.
Earl Yeager, a World War II Marine, helped. His son, John, a Marine, was killed in a firefight near Quang Tri on Oct. 2, 1967. John Yeager's 13-man unit took 100 percent casualties that day, including 10 dead, Earl Yeager said.
Baltimore County had 123 known casualties by the time of the groundbreaking on Veterans Day in November, said Rogers, 54, a member of the Board of Recreation and Parks.
A recheck of the Pentagon's Maryland casualty list to separate city and county residents produced 18 more names. Another was confirmed Wednesday, and Staff Sgt. Thomas M. Dietz, of Perry Hall, will be added to the memorial.
"I hope we haven't missed anyone else, but if we have and the family will contact us it will be added to the memorial," said Rogers, whose Army career ended in 1969 when a land mine destroyed his right leg in South Vietnam.
Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran who is director of the national anti-drug effort, delivered the dedication address.
Public perception of Vietnam veterans has been "inaccurate and inadequate," he said.
McCaffrey said 2.6 million men and women served in the combat theater, the youngest, best educated and most diverse American force sent to fight a war.
And as they reach middle age, the veterans are distinguishing themselves in civilian life. "Theirs is a record of valor, dedication and sacrifice," McCaffrey said.
Avery E. Harden, 47, a landscape architect for the county Department of Permits and Development Management, designed the memorial, which resembles a panel of The Wall and which cost $30,000, raised privately.
The landscaped garden around the stele creates a "private space" for a few people at a time to contemplate the memorial from a bench of the same jet-black Mozambique granite while a fountain bubbles softly nearby, said Harden, who served in the ++ Peace Corps from 1975 to 1978.
The Baltimore County memorial project began in early 1993 with a conversation between Michael Mann, a local auctioneer and Vietnam veteran, and Riley, a Naval Reserve lawyer.
"I travel around the state in my business. I saw that four or five counties had Vietnam memorials, and I spoke to Doug. [Then] County Executive [Roger B.] Hayden approved it, and the committee started work," Mann said. "It was a way to show my respect," he said. "It's a great place for reflection, for the family members."
A service for Marylanders missing in action and their families as well as the war dead will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Dulaney Valley Memorial Garden, in Timonium, where 25 Vietnam veterans are buried and an MIA is honored.
Pub Date: 5/26/96