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Gold Star Children from Vietnam War Applaud Movie 'Top Gun: Maverick'

Sons and Daughters In Touch (SDIT) thanks Tom Cruise, Jerry Bruckheimer and Paramount for again bringing the story of a Vietnam War Gold Star son to the screen in Top Gun: Maverick.

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As the real-life ‘sons and daughters’ whose fathers were lost during the Vietnam War, the members of Sons and Daughters In Touch (SDIT) readily relate to Tom Cruise’s character of Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell as the son of a fallen Hero from the Vietnam War.


America’s Gold Star Families from the Vietnam War applaud Paramount’s release of this thrilling blockbuster film, telling the fictional story of a Gold Star son from the Vietnam War. This year America honors all Vietnam veterans with the 40th anniversary (Veterans Day 1982 to 2022) of the dedication of Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, and the continuing of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War (targeted for 2025).


“In Top Gun - released in 1986 - Maverick was a young Navy officer charging into life with one eye on his future and one eye gazing into his past – a past he hardly understood,” said Tony Cordero, Gold Star son of Maj. William E. Cordero USAF (KIA 1965), founder and chairman of the Sons and Daughters In Touch. “In the 1980s, just like Maverick, the Gold Star and POW/MIA ‘sons and daughters’ of the Vietnam War were in their 20s and 30s and racing full speed ahead. Yet there were always questions about their real-life past. ‘What happened to dad?’ ‘Did he think about me?’ ‘Did he suffer?’ ‘Is he really gone?’”


Those questions, the very same questions Maverick would have had about his Father, led to the 1989 formation of Sons and Daughters In Touch.


“Today, Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell continues to be a mirror of us. He’s middle-aged and wondering about his future. He honors his father’s legacy of service and sacrifice and is forever grateful to his mother – a Gold Star wife – who wore many hats while raising him. That is the story of Sons and Daughters In Touch,” Cordero said.


The Gold Star designation is presented by the Department of Defense to the immediate family of service members who gave their lives while deployed to hostile regions to confront adversaries of the United States.


“During the Vietnam War, our fathers served in every era, at every rank and in every branch of the United States military. Just like the fictional life of Duke Mitchell – Maverick’s father – some of our fathers were Naval aviators flying jets off the USS Oriskany, and some were lost under questionable circumstances,” said David Smith, alluding to the story of Duke Mitchell’s loss that was part of the 1986 Top Gun movie. Smith is one of four Gold Star sons of Lt. Commander David A. Smith who was killed in 1966 in a catastrophic fire on board the USS Oriskany.

In conjunction with the film’s public release, members of Sons and Daughters In Touch will participate in special screenings of Top Gun: Maverick at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, and at Memorial Day weekend Fleet Week activities in New York and Los Angeles.


Formed in 1989, Sons and Daughters In Touch works ‘to locate, unite and support’ the now-grown children of American servicemen lost in the Vietnam War. Today, 58,281 service members are remembered on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 1584 Americans remain unaccounted for as a result of their service during the Vietnam War.


Over the past 33 years, Sons and Daughters In Touch has connected with nearly 5000 Gold Star and MIA “children” who lost their fathers in the Vietnam War. The organization has helped make Father’s Day a poignant tribute at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In 2003, it led the largest-ever Gold Star pilgrimage to Vietnam enabling 50 ‘sons and daughters’ to see the exact places where their fathers gave their lives. SDIT has also forged unprecedented bonds with veterans of the Vietnam War, and with older (WWII and Korean War) and younger Gold Star families (Gulf War and Global War on Terror).


SDIT Contact: Tony Cordero • Anthony.P.Cordero@gmail.com • tony@sdit.org • 714-812-7976 Social Media Channels: SDIT.orgFacebookInstagramYouTube Historic Note: If he were an actual casualty of the war, Vietnam veteran Duke Mitchell would be listed on Panel 3 East, Line 19 on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Links: Vietnam Veterans of AmericaUnited States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Vietnam Veterans Memorial