GALLIPOLIS — Community members gathered around the Doughboy Monument in Gallipolis City Park in honor of Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Day on Tuesday afternoon.
The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 was signed into law by President Donald Trump, designating March 29 as a day of celebration and honor of Vietnam Veterans and family, as March 29, 1973 was the day combat veterans evacuated South Vietnam, according to Larry Marr, Gallia County Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Chapter 709 president.
Marr was the speaker of the event, reading an excerpt from “River Rats” by Ralph Christopher and talking of the dedication of all veterans to their country.
“We appreciate all of the Vietnam Veterans for their service to our country,” Marr said. “Many of us have changed a little bit [since that time], we’ve put on a little extra weight, we have a little more gray about us. But one thing [that] doesn’t change is our interest in protecting our country and serving others here.”
Gallia County Commissioner Jay Stapleton read and presented a proclamation to the VFW on behalf of the entire commission board.
“Whereas servicemen and women served in the Vietnam War represented generations who represented the very meaning of courage, bravery, honor and sacrifice,” Stapleton read. “The highest military decoration, Medal of Honor, was awarded to 258.”
Marr said there were 58,479 Veterans that did not return home, 12 of those from Gallia County. Those 12 Gallia County residents were honored during the ceremony and included: Army Specialist Fourth Class Russell Lee Hamilton of Rodney, Staff Sergeant John Otis Finnicum of Kanauga — who served in World War II, Korea and South Vietnam, Marine Corporal Charles Neal Jr. of Gallipolis, Army Pfc. Wandle Lewis Hickman of Bidwell, Army Sergeant Russell Lee Blanton of Vinton, Captain Archie Andrew Hayman, Army Sergeant Paul L. Yost of Vinton, Army Sergeant Cecil Matthew Jr., Army Staff Sergeant Leslie Brucker Jr., Army Sp/4 Roger Hawley of Bidwell, Army SFC Fred Mooney of Northup and Navy AMS1 Albert Lee.
The ceremony included a prayer from the VFW chaplain, a gun salute and the playing of Taps, the National Song of Remembrance.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.