Confidential work, public recognition – Kudos

Confidential work, public recognition – Kudos – Vietnam War veteran and Army Reservist Kenneth Mair

Dorea Fowlkes

His unit’s mission in Laos was secret.

As a consequence, Master Sgt. Kenneth Mair never considered wearing his U.S. Army Support Thailand patch on the right shoulder of his uniform signifying he was a combat veteran.

That was more than 30 years ago. When Mair left the Army in the spring of 1971, he forgot about it. Now, thanks to the research of a fellow Reservist, Mair, the personnel services NCO for Individual Mobilization Augmentees, is wearing the patch again.

Capt. John Wydock met Mair when both men were mobilized for duty with the Military Traffic Management Command after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America. Wydock was intrigued to learn about Mair’s participation in the Vietnam War – particularly his time served in Thailand. An avid historian, Wydock immediately began to research Mair’s former unit.

“I knew that there were forces in Laos, and I was now more eager to learn about Mair’s unit,” said Wydock.

While reviewing records, Wydock made a critical discovery. In 1992, the Army publicly recognized personnel who had served in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia from March 1961 to March 1973 and authorized the wearing of the U.S. Army Support Thailand patch.

“I felt Master Sergeant Mair had served his country for two years in Thailand and deserved to be recognized for it,” said Wydock.

The next challenge was finding U.S. Army Support Thailand patches. After an extensive search, Wydock found a battle-dress uniform subdued patch at a local military clothing sales store. On the Internet, he located a Class A dress-uniform patch through a military artifacts company.

Wydock proudly presented the patches to Mair at an informal birthday ceremony Jan. 15. He also presented Mair with a display case containing the patch and several authorized medals.

“I am very proud to now wear this uniform again with the U.S. Army Support Thailand patch for my support to a unit that I am very proud to recognize,” said Mair.

Mair served in Korat, Thailand, with the undisclosed unit in 1969. For security reasons, members of the unit were not recognized for one of its mission in Laos.

Even after his departure from Thailand, Mair kept his duty assignment confidential for national security reasons. After his discharge, he worked as a computer programmer/analyst at an insurance company in Maine.

Mair joined the Army Reserve in 1981. He began working for MTMC’s Plans, Readiness and Mobilization staff seven years later.

Ms. Fowlkes is with the Operations Center, Military Traffic Management Command.

COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Army Reserve

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group