MERIDEN, Conn. — Even getting out of the house for Raymond J. Cichon Jr. is a struggle these days.

He had a lung removed a few years ago because of the cancer that was spreading through his body. He had a heart attack not long ago. The numerous rounds of intensive chemotherapy have taken a toll.

“I don’t know how much time I have left,” said Cichon, 63, looking over the names on the city’s Vietnam War monument on Paddock Avenue.

Cichon is a veteran of the Vietnam War, having been discharged from the Army in 1973. For six months he served as a gunner on the back of a Jeep in Vietnam, though much of his time was spent in Germany. In 1972, he was in Munich during the Olympics when 11 people representing Israel were taken hostage by a group of Palestinians and killed.

Like many others who served in Vietnam and lived in Meriden, he was pleased to hear 13 years after his discharge that a group of veterans was raising money to erect a memorial. The memorial consists of a 33-ton stone listing the names of residents who died in Vietnam and three other plaques with the names of every other city resident who served in the war.

But despite his two years of service, Cichon’s name could not be found on the memorial. Cichon and family members did what they could to get his name added to the list, but remained unsuccessful for years.

“He spoke with people at City Hall. We called everyone we could. We must have filled out the paperwork six times,” said Cichon’s youngest sister, Patricia Lavigne.

“He has been through a lot the last few years and had a really hard time. He was saying he just wanted to see his name on the monument before he died.”

Cichon was one of numerous military veterans contacted last year by state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo’s office. Anybody who served in the military during the time of a war from Connecticut is eligible for a service medal, but Bartolomeo said many were unaware.

While Cichon did not have the medal, he remained focused on getting his name added to the memorial and asked if it was possible. He was referred to City Councilors Cathy Battista and Matthew C. Dominello, who were able to help.

“Ray deserved to have his name on there and for whatever reason, it was never added,” Battista said.

Although they were unable to get Cichon’s name pressed into the plaque, as an alternative his name was printed on a placard, which was screwed in among the list of names.

“It means a lot to see it there,” he said.

A small ceremony was held recently for Cichon, who also received citations from the City Council and the Legislature.


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