Veteran, family look for names of dozens of friends on Moving Wall

Aug 21, 2017

Kristi Funfar gained a better understanding of her dad, Barry Funfar, a Vietnam veteran, when they went to the Moving Wall together, where she learned that 111 people her dad trained with were killed in action in Vietnam.

Barry, a door gunner from 1968 to 1969, went looking for 39 names of the men in his unit who did not come back, but after he visited the wall he recognized a lot of other names. Barry didn’t find all the names of those in his unit because he became “overwhelmed,” Funfar said, but he made rubbings of the men who were his closest friends to send to their families.

“I got choked up just watching how it was for him,” Funfar said. “I don’t really have words to describe how sad.”

Funfar, who lives in Falmouth, said her dad explained that, “he’ll find a name that he remembers and then picture a face and picture moments. They never got to come home and fill their dreams and have a family.”

Barry completed 127 missions as a door gunner, firing weapons while aboard a helicopter. This job was so dangerous that door gunners were read their last rites before they went on a mission.

“He’s never said this, but I think it’s almost a guilty, ‘Why did I get to come home?’ type of thing,” Funfar said.

Funfar went to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. with her family when she was a child, but her dad wasn’t able to talk about his experiences yet. In 2003, he became involved with Veterans Affairs and was diagnosed with PTSD. He started going to the VA five days a week and found it easier to open up about his time in Vietnam.

“I guess my dad is one of the lucky ones because he had a very successful life,” Funfar said. But her father has struggled with PTSD ever since he left Vietnam at age 23.

“I heard him tell another Vietnam veteran when we were at the wall, ‘Maybe we’re not supposed to forget,’” Funfar said.

Even hearing a helicopter overhead while at the Moving Wall upset Barry.

“I wanted to make the helicopter go away,” Funfar said. “I was like, ‘Don’t they know?’”

But talking to other veterans helped. Funfar said her dad saw another veteran reacting to the helicopter with “his head down and he was in tears." Barry was able to talk to many people about their experiences during his visits to the Moving Wall.

Funfar said she felt closer to her dad after going to the Moving Wall with him and her sons.

“It helps me understand a little more of what it’s like for him, which helps me and my family understand him better,” Funfar said. “I thought I understood until we went the other day. There’s so much emotion that he just carries inside.”

She also has a better understanding of the war and what others went through.

“I wish it was mandatory for everybody to have to go visit the wall because it would help everybody understand it,” Funfar said.

The Moving Wall came to Wareham on Aug. 17 and was closed to the public at 2 p.m. Aug. 21.