PORTSMOUTH — Wayne Oliveira and his late brother, Michael, both served in the Vietnam War. For years, however, only Michael’s name was included on the Honor Roll of veterans inside Town Hall.That’s because Wayne, who enlisted before Michael, was not a Portsmouth resident when he signed up for duty. Traditionally, only those who were living in town at the time of enlistment were eligible to have their names on the Honor Roll.
“I enlisted in Newport. Three months after I enlisted, my family moved to Portsmouth. When I discharged from the service, my permanent address was Portsmouth,” said Mr. Oliveira, adding that he’s owned a home in Portsmouth for nearly 34 years and his daughter was born here.
Since he’s had some serious health issues lately, he was hoping to get his name on the board for his daughter and the rest of the family to see.
“My brother’s on the board, and I’d like to be on the board with him. We served together for a short time,” he said, noting that Michael died in 2010 at the age of 58.
Mr. Oliveira had also been told some changes to the Honor Roll were going to take place in the near future. “I figured this was my last best shot to get on,” he said.
Mr. Oliveira first went to Town Hall to request that his name be included, but a copy of regulations for the Honor Roll could not be found. So, he came before the Town Council Monday night.
His wish was granted within minutes, as the council voted unanimously to put Mr. Oliveira’s name on the board. Council President James Seveney said it was only fair, since his own name is on the Honor Roll and he was commissioned from Boston when he joined the Navy.
“Based on your service to your country and to the town,” said Mr. Seveney, “we should fix the rules to make this work.”
Added Council Vice President John Blaess, “It’s the very least this town can do to honor those people who volunteered” to serve their country.
Council member Keith Hamilton agreed that the Honor Roll should be more inclusive for veterans. “People who live in Portsmouth and spend the majority of their lives here deserve to be on it,” he said.
After the vote Mr. Seveney thanked Mr. Oliveira for serving his country, and the veteran was applauded as he walked back to his seat.