ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A New Mexico Veteran loaned some Vietnam mementos from the war she served in; now she says some of those items are missing.
Eva Morgan was a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force. She served 11 years. Part of that time was in Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. She served in Tent City where base personnel housed and processed more than 10,000 Southeast Asian refugees.
“We went and did a service to protect them, this country,” Morgan said as she choked back tears.
Morgan is a proud veteran.
“You put that uniform on and you become a different person. It’s just overwhelming,” she said.
The New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial in Albuquerque had a special female veteran’s display. In October 2013, Morgan loaned the facility 18 items including Vietnamese money, papers describing Operation Arrival, a Vietnam statue, newspapers from 1971 and 1972 and nine newsletters.
“This was a loan. We have them fill out a form with what it is and we initial it and sign it,” said Donald Loftis, the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial Board Chair.
Morgan filled out the paperwork, leaving the items with curator Mary Cox. Morgan said she later got a call from a volunteer.
“She had said Mary wanted them laminated. I told her if Mary wanted them laminated that she could do it. And that’s the last time I saw them.”
Morgan said after the six month loan was up, she went to collect her items, but the nine newsletters were missing.
“Irresponsible. Totally irresponsible,” she said.
But the memorial volunteers have a different story.
“Most of our people that I’ve talked to remember her taking them to go have them laminated and she never brought them back,” Loftis said.
Volunteers have searched for the items, including in the basement where hundreds of items are in storage under lock and key.
“We’ve got WWI to the present,” Cox said.
Loftis said his staff is done searching.
“We’ve searched, probably 50-60,” he said. “We’re convinced they’re not in the building.”
But Loftis admitted that his staff could have misplaced the newsletters.
“Oh sure. If she brought them back from being laminated and left them at the front desk or left them in the library,” Loftis said. “We have front desk volunteers. They work one day a month. So trying to get 100 pristine perfect procedures is difficult.”
The gravelly-voiced vet is tenacious, some would say overbearing and she doesn’t take guff from anyone. She hasn’t let this rest in more than two years, she’s still fighting.
“It’s not my fault they lost ’em and don’t put it on me to come look through your basement. Already been there, done it and can’t find nothing down there and they should have been more responsible and know where that stuff went. I trusted them with it,” Morgan said.
This Vietnam vet would like compensation somehow. Insurance could cover the cost, but how do you put a value on history?
“It’s probably very valuable to her but for an insurance company to say, ‘I’ll give you…’ I don’t think there’s a lot of value there,” Loftis said.
The nine newsletters were titled “New Land” and were from 1975. The newsletters were written half in English and half in Vietnamese. Morgan signed each one at the bottom. She is hoping someone will see this story and return the newsletters.
“I’d like to have my papers back, they mean a lot to me,” she said.