Veteran Meets Widow Of Man Who Died For Him After 40 Yrs - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Veteran Meets Widow Of Man Who Died For Him After 40 Yrs

Posted: Updated:
(KCEN) – A Vietnam veteran finally met the widow of the soldier who died in his place after a decades-long wait on Wednesday

“This is his name right here,” says Russell Widener, as he points to an inscription of Roy McLennan’s name on the Waco Vietnam Memorial. “That's the gentleman who took my place on that ill-fated mission."

Widener was headed out on a mission in Vietnam in 1969, but after a last minute decision, leadership sent McLennan instead.

“He indicated he didn't have any gear, and I said here take mine,” says Widener.

Minutes later, McLennan was killed in action.

"He died in place of me, and that's the hard thing to live with sometimes day in and day out,” says Widener with tear-filled eyes.

Widener says the mission assignment decision that changed so many lives took only ten seconds.

Five minutes later, McLennan took his final breath.

Now after 40 years of searching, Widener meets McLennan's widow and daughter for the first time.

The greeting along Waco’s Brazos River begins with a long, tearful embrace.  

Then Widener starts to explain the way things unfolded that fateful day in Vietnam and that McLennan is the reason he’s alive.

It is the first time McLennan’s family has ever heard this part of the story.

“It's very special. It's very special to know someone cares and thought enough to tell the family what happened that day,” McLennan’s daughter Sharla says.  

Widener hands Sharla a gift -- a gold replica of McLennan’s dog tag, which never made it home.

She immediately puts it around her neck.

"Hopefully, this will be something she can look back at and remember him by,” Widener says through tears.

Sharla was just 2-years old when her father was killed, and receiving the token means something Sharla has never had before.

“Closeness to my father, it’s closeness,” she says as she looks down at his name imprinted in gold.

For McLennan’s widow, Joyce, Widener made an etching of McLennan's name from the memorial in Washington.

He also leaves the family with photos of McLennan, which they had never seen before.

Widener admits the long-awaited meeting wasn't just for them.

“In reality, I'm doing it a lot for myself. It helps bring closure, and it's the best way I can give thanks."

Reporter: Sophia Stamas sstamas@kcentv.com



  • Latest NewsMore>>

  • Heart Of Texas Goodwill Industries Hosts Job Fair In Temple & Killeen

    Heart Of Texas Goodwill Industries Hosts Job Fair In Temple & Killeen

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:03 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:03:22 GMT
    Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries would like to invite members of the Temple and Killeen areas to one of two job fairs they will be hosting this week. Anyone interested can come discuss a variety of job opportunities within Heart of Texas Goodwill and fill out an application and interview on the spot. The first event will take place Thursday, July 31st, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Heart of Texas Goodwill Temple Learning Center, located at 4108 South 31st Street in Temple, Texas. The second ...More >>
    Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries would like to invite members of the Temple and Killeen areas to one of two job fairs they will be hosting this week. Anyone interested can come discuss a variety of job opportunities within Heart of Texas Goodwill and fill out an application and interview on the spot. The first event will take place Thursday, July 31st, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Heart of Texas Goodwill Temple Learning Center, located at 4108 South 31st Street in Temple, Texas. The second ...More >>
  • Antonio Finally Gets His Make a Wish

    Antonio Finally Gets His Make a Wish

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:01 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:01:42 GMT
    Antonio by a tree in his orchardAntonio by a tree in his orchard
    (KCEN) – They told him to wish big… and boy did he. On Monday, just one day after his eighth birthday, Antonio Laguna finally got his Make a Wish. “Lots of waiting,” he laughed just moments before getting to see his greenhouse and orchard. “I’m so excited. It’s going to be fun.” And it was. With the plants in place, his tools waiting, and the red ribbon up, Antonio walked outside to see his dream picking farm. “It’s so amazing,” he giggled standing in his greenhouse. “I can’t believe so many ...More >>
    (KCEN) – They told him to wish big… and boy did he. On Monday, just one day after his eighth birthday, Antonio Laguna finally got his Make a Wish. “Lots of waiting,” he laughed just moments before getting to see his greenhouse and orchard. “I’m so excited. It’s going to be fun.” And it was. With the plants in place, his tools waiting, and the red ribbon up, Antonio walked outside to see his dream picking farm. “It’s so amazing,” he giggled standing in his greenhouse. “I can’t believe so many ...More >>
  • Bell County Passes Resolution to Ban Housing Immigrant Children

    Bell County Passes Resolution to Ban Housing Immigrant Children

    Monday, July 28 2014 11:48 PM EDT2014-07-29 03:48:57 GMT
    (KCEN) --Bell County is the latest county in Texas to pass a controversial resolution that would ban the housing of undocumented immigrant children.The resolution was passed at Monday’s commissioner’s court meeting.It’s similar to resolutions recently passed in Jefferson, Brazoria and Galveston counties. Local immigration activists say they're appalled at the lack of consideration. “You're telling me, hey let's just throw you in the trash and look the other way and keep going,” said God’s C...More >>
    (KCEN) --Bell County is the latest county in Texas to pass a controversial resolution that would ban the housing of undocumented immigrant children.The resolution was passed at Monday’s commissioner’s court meeting.It’s similar to resolutions recently passed in Jefferson, Brazoria and Galveston counties. Local immigration activists say they're appalled at the lack of consideration. “You're telling me, hey let's just throw you in the trash and look the other way and keep going,” said God’s C...More >>
Click for Local Doppler Radar
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KCEN. All Rights Reserved. Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service, Privacy Notice/Your California Privacy Rights, and Ad Choices.