njvvmf robin van decker goodrichPHOTO: Robin A. Van Decker Goodrich receiving awards on behalf of family members from Brigadier General Michael L. Cunniff, Adjutant General of New Jersey

HOLMDEL, NJ – Robin A. Van Decker Goodrich, made her way up to the receiving line four times during the recent Remembrance Day Ceremony held on May 7, at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation. Goodrich received multiple Distinguished Service Medals honoring four family members, posthumously, for their distinguished service in combat. They were: her husband Yeoman First Class George E. Goodrich, her father Machinist Mate Third Class Edward A. Van Decker, her uncle Seaman First Class John M. Van Decker and also for SP4 Donald L. Updike, late father of Captain Amy Updike, Robin Goodrich’s daughter and an active service member in the Army Nurse Corps. Her fourth trip to the podium elicited a standing ovation. Goodrich is also a veteran who served in the Navy for 6 years during Vietnam.

After the ceremony, Goodrich commented, “It was truly an honor receiving these medals for my family members and I thank the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for making this possible. I was brought to tears realizing how proud each of these men would of been if they could of walked up there themselves because each of them were true patriots and honored to have served their country. Military service is a tradition in my family.”

More than 200 people gathered together at this year’s ceremony. Bill Linderman, Executive Director of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation was joined by Jim Knotts, Executive Director & CEO of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation based in Washington, D.C., and keynote speaker for the event.

njvvmf linderman knotts cunniffPHOTO: Left – Right: Bill Linderman, Executive Director of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation, Jim Knotts, President & CEO of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and Brigadier General Michael L. Cunniff, the Adjutant General of New Jersey

During his remarks, Knotts quoted Ken Burns, award-winning filmmaker whose newest project with partner Lynn Novick, The Vietnam War, is scheduled to air on PBS stations in September 2017. Asked the question, Why does Vietnam still matter? Burns replied:

“Just think about it. You want to understand Wikileaks? Let’s go back to the Pentagon papers. You want to understand about meddling in foreign affairs, about political parties reaching out to foreign powers that’s right now in the news? That’s in the story of Vietnam. You want to find out about the disconnect between the generals who make the plans and the service members who do the fighting and dying? Vietnam reveals this. To understand Vietnam is to arm yourself in the best sort of way for how to deal with our present incredibly fraught moments. It couldn’t be more relevant than it is today.”


Remembrance Day was created by legislation in 1991 as a day in New Jersey to honor those who served in the military during the Vietnam War from 1959 to 1975. More than 200,000 New Jersey residents served in the armed forces during that time. During the ceremony held each year at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation, Distinguished Service Medals are awarded to combat veterans in recognition of exemplary service in the line of duty.

About New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation
The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, dedicated May 7, 1995, was built to encourage and foster patriotism and provide for recognition of the sacrifices, courage and valor of the New Jersey Veterans of the Vietnam Era. The Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center, dedicated in September 1998, strives to encourage and foster a thorough understanding of the Vietnam era, including the political, historical, social, cultural and military aspects that affected the United States, especially New Jersey. For more information, visit www.njvvmf.org.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...