Fifty-three years after her husband disappeared over the TC Himalayas, Doris Ramos Stepanovich dedicated a headstone yesterday to the memory of U.S. Army Air Corps 1st Lt. Frank Miguel Ramos Jr.
"It makes it all the more real to see a plaque with Frank's name on it, lying in the ground," Stepanovich said as she laid flowers on the stone of her husband. "He's never had a funeral and I'm afraid he never may, but this was just beautiful."
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Stepanovich was among the three Maryland families that dedicated bronze markers at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium to relatives missing in action -- one of many services held in the Baltimore area to honor Americans who died in combat.
In south Baltimore, more than 100 people gathered amid dozens of small American flags at the Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
"A lot of people think Memorial Day is the first day of summer, a time to head for Ocean City or clean up the barbecue and have a cookout," said Fred Bromwell, president of Baltimore Chapter 451 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
"I thank all of you for taking the time out of your holiday week-end to stop and think about the real meaning of this day," Bromwell said. "Now, go and ask your friends what they did to remember the men who died -- the men who made it possible for them to have the freedom to do everything else they've done on this holiday."
Friends and relatives sat around the edges of the memorial to be near the 1,046 names that are inscribed on its granite wall.
"This is just such a nice service," said a tearful Dora Novosad, 73, of Ellicott City, whose son, Raymond O. Novosad, was killed in Vietnam in 1969. She has attended all eight services at the memorial to sit next to her son's name. "I miss him a lot."
Participants unveiled an 8 1/2 -foot-wide painting of the Hanover Street bridge -- renamed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge in 1993 -- by Locust Point artist and Korean War veteran Charles "Buzz" Gardner. After the service, the painting was hung in the Baltimore Vietnam Veterans chapter headquarters in Holabird Industrial Park.
The unveiling of the bronze markers in Timonium before more than 300 veterans and others helped provide closure for the three families.
"We need more people to keep on fighting to find men like my father," said Cheryl Shannon, 37, as she placed red roses on the marker for Airman 1st Class Robert L. Hilton. Her father was a 29-year-old Air Force radio operator on an amphibious rescue plane when he and his crew disappeared over the Gulf of Tonkin in March 1966.
"People put out their flags over the weekend and then put them up in the cupboard. We never forget," Shannon said.
Since he last saw Richard Krepps more than 45 years ago, Vincent Krepps of Towson has not forgotten his twin brother, who disappeared in 1950 during the Korean War. It is assumed Richard Krepps died after being captured, but his brother isn't sure.
"I don't know exactly where my brother is, but to me this is his resting place," said Vincent Krepps, 66. "In my mind, at least, he's not on a hillside in North Korea, in a shallow grave or washed away along the Yalu River."
Earlier this month, Vincent Krepps met with U.S. and North Korean government officials in New York to try to learn more about the 8,000 Americans still missing, but they failed to reach an agreement.
"This might be my last chance to see my brother rest," he said.
Pub Date: 5/27/97