Oologah family celebrates its first Memorial Day after Vietnam veteran father's death

Posted at 8:57 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-27 01:54:14-04

OOLOGAH, Okla. - Memorial Day is usually a big deal in Vicki Perritt's house, but after her husband, a marine veteran, died last October it holds a whole new meaning. 

“It was a source of pride within him that no one could take away," she said of her husband's time as a marine.

She remembers the pain and pride she felt almost fifty years ago when he shipped off to Vietnam. 

“He became the colonel’s personal aid. He typed what they called the colonel’s top secret briefs," she said. 

He left with Vietnamese language training, a guitar and a camera on an adventure he had no idea would change his life in more ways than one. 

“He had his first heart attack in 2010. We didn’t know until 2014 that it was related to agent orange."

Vicki and Robert quickly found out his sacrifice had only just begun. 

“I remember his cardiologist in Houston telling us he’d never seen anything quite like Robert. He died on his tenth heart attack.”

While the weekend is the first Memorial Day without him, it's the last without a proper thank you from his country. 

He'll be inducted into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund's "In Memory" Program in Washington D.C. 

The program honors Vietnam veterans who survived the war but not its impact.

The ceremony will be by the wall with the names of the lifelong friends he fought beside. 

“They’re willing to give their lives for us so we can live where we want, so we can do what we want to do, that’s important for our kids to understand today."

Vicki knows Memorial Day will be difficult, but nothing rivals the sacrifice Robert and so many others made.

“We’ll be proud.”

She said they'll plant his favorite flowers and celebrate his life under the flag he fought to protect.

“Freedom isn’t free. It never has been. There’s been a price associated with it.”

Get more information on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund's program here.  

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