Bedminster, NJ  - A poignant 8” x 10” B/W photograph of former Freehold resident, John E. McDonough, has been chosen to go a national tour with the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Educational Center’s “Traveling Trunks” program.

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John E. McDonough demonstrates tae kwon do in this 1972 photo.

“The Traveling Trunks” program, a hands-on project, allows teachers to show their students original objects and documents that help tell the story of the Vietnam War.  The first trunk is entitled, “Life and Times: Soldiers, Families and Nations” and helps explore answers to the essential question: “How does war affect soldiers and their families?”  The trunk contains artifacts such as dog tags, uniforms, personal letters and photographs.  We are very grateful to Stacia McDonough for allowing us to include a photograph of her late husband, John E. McDonough, training in Tae Kwon Do during his tour of duty. This unique image of a soldier engaging in an activity outside of traditional military duties will relate well to a student who is interested in athletics.  We are excited to put meaning behind the memory of an extremely brave solider whose roots are similar to students who will be learning from it,” says Katie Henry,  Coordinator of Education Initiatives & Resources of Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center.

John E. McDonough was a Sergeant in the USAF.  He was with the 21st TASS (Tactical Air Support Squadron).  He served from 1972-1973 in three especially designated “hot zones” during the war: Saigon, Nha Trang and Anloc.

“It is bittersweet,” says Stacia. She adds, “It makes me very sad that John never got the recognition and respect for his service and sacrifice during his life, that he now receives after his death. Unfortunately, this is the case with many of our Vietnam veterans.”

According to Stacia, John sought out the Tae Kwon Do lessons at night to relieve stress.  A dedicated athlete, Mr. McDonough earned both 1st and 2nd degree black belt within one year.  There is also a photograph of Mr. McDonough with his Tae Kwon Do class on permanent display at the Memorial’s Educational Center.

A highly decorated veteran, in 2008 Mr. McDonough, was inducted into The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, impressive “In Memory” program.  This honor is reserved for a select group of veterans who, due to their service and sacrifice in Vietnam died early as a direct result of their time spent “In Country.”  John died at the age of 54 from complications caused by overexposure to the deadly herbicide Agent Orange.

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John E. McDonough with his tae kwon do class in 1972: John is in the back row second from the left.  This is the photo which is on permanent display at the Memorial's Educational Center.

The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is the second largest Vietnam memorial. The famous monument in Washington D.C. is currently the largest. However, New Jersey holds the exclusive distinction of being the only one with an Educational Center.

The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. The Vietnam Era Museum and Educational Center is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Guided tours by volunteer Vietnam Veterans are available by request.  Adult admission is $5.00; student and senior citizen admission is $3.00; and children under 10 are admitted free.  Admission is free for veterans and active-duty military personnel.  For further information about the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial you can contact them at 732.335.0033 or visit their website at: www.njvvmf.org. The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial and its Educational Center are both non-for-profit.