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But for the grace of God

 WASHINGTON –  The National Archives has created an interactive Web site in which people can learn about each of the 58,250 Americans killed in the Vietnam War and also pay tribute to them.

"These are individuals, these are people who have given their lives, these are many of them my friends," Vietnam veteran Richard Schroepfer says in a video on the site, which is called the "Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial." 

The memorial provides a link to the service records and casualty reports of those who died in the war, average age: 22.8 years. Visitors are encouraged to contribute their own comments, stories and photos.

VIDEO: Vietnam Memorial goes virtual

"We know there are many untold experiences and stories represented on the Wall, and we hope this interactive version of the Wall will help those affected by the war," Russell Wilding, CEO of Footnote.com, which partnered with the Archives on the project, told a news conference this morning.

Wilding said the site also provides a way for people to pay tribute to the 2.5 million Vietnam veterans who survived the war.

There are 36 different ways to search the site, including by name, unit, hometown, home state, rank and years of birth and death.

I decided to try it out. I typed in the name of a friend from college who I last saw in August 1969 at a remote outpost in South Vietnam and who I later learned had been killed in the war.

Sure enough, up popped his name:

Full name: Suttle, Frederick N. Jr.
Rank: Captain
Hometown: Newport News, Va.
Marital Status: Married
Date of Birth: 1945-03-27
Death Date: 1972-06-02
Age: 26
Died of: Air loss, crash-land
Ground, air, sea: Helicopter - non-crew
Body recovery: Recovered

There but for the grace of God go I.

John Rutherford is an NBC News Producer based out of the Washington, D.C. bureau and is a decorated Vietnam veteran

. He also posts stories on the military at www.dailynightly.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories") and at http://john-rutherford.newsvine.com/.