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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

9-18-2023 Soup Meal/Walk of Honor/Veterans Service

Ret. MSgt Tim Chandler speaks about Veterans Soup Meal at the 2023 Ashland Count Fair

Noah J. Gangi of Hospice of NC Ohio spoke on the Veteran's Service

1963 Ashland High School graduate Greg Gorrell was the Guest Speaker at the 2023 Ashland Count Fair Veterans Service and served from January to December 1967, in southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

Speech is as follows:

9/18/2023 Monday – Ashland County Fair – Veterans Talk

Civil War 620,000 275,000 plus wounded

WWI 116,000 204,000

WWII 407,000 565,000

Korea 36,000 92,000

Vietnam 58,000 150,000

Iraq 4,400 32,000

Afghanistan 2,400 20,700

MIA’s – from ALL WARS - 81,000 plus.

There have been many other overseas conflicts in the history of our nation.

PLUS - millions of others having served in our armed forces and support groups, including many of you – here today.

These numbers are staggering; the cumulative effect in defense of freedom is almost beyond comprehension.

There are multiple memorials for those lost throughout our great nation. One of those memorials is the Vietnam War Memorial In Washington DC.

7 weeks ago the Vietnam Traveling Tribute Memorial Wall for the first time was here in Ashland at the Ashland County Airport – in conjunction with the annual Veterans Appreciation Day for all veterans and the community, which many of you attended. While 58,000 names of persons appear on the Wall -hundreds of thousands of surviving families, friends and other loved ones were impacted with wounded hearts and wounded spirits – with those lost - ultimately to be honored, respected, saluted and revered. Each of you here perhaps have your own thoughts and memories for those lost, those who survived and those who have served.

For me, I among others, served as a guide for 4 days to assist hundreds who came to the Wall at the airport to find a name or names of those lost - imbedded on the Wall. They came from Ashland County, Richland County, Wayne County, Knox County, Holmes County - and from many other locations.

1. One woman from Shelby had me escort her to find the name she was searching for. When we located it – I walked away but looked back and could tell she was very tender.

2- A Vietnam veteran who was slow to walk; he and I located a name for him on the Wall. In talking to him, he had NOT been to the Wall in Washington DC (which was designed by a young woman from Athens, Ohio named MAYA LIN) nor had he previously been to the Traveling Wall. As he touched his name, he became visibly moved – and I presumed this was a fellow soldier from his unit who never came home.

3- An older couple came - where the husband had trouble communicating, so his wife handed me a list of SEVEN names. I and another Vietnam veteran helped locate them all. I shall not forget anytime soon this experience - for them.

4 – For me personally – I left a tribute to two men in my Army Infantry combat platoon that I was very close to, Wendle Clyde Davis from Wales, Utah, killed 5/25/1967 and Forrest Dean Hoeme from Kansas, killed 3/11/1967.

I had many other experiences over those 4 days with several who were searching for “ the one” – sought out by sons, widows, brothers, nieces, nephews, former school friends and neighbors.

Many of you here today perhaps have “the one” – or more – that you remember regardless of when or where your one served.

A dear veteran friend of mine some time ago said that all veterans can best be thanked “by embracing the freedoms fought for and by standing on and defending the moral high ground”.

This high ground is symbolized by Old Glory, The American Flag, the Stars and Stripes, the Star Spangled Banner – all SYMBOLIC of the sacrifice that each of you in your own way have made to preserve this great land.

It has been said that a patriot is a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against all enemies or detractors – both internal and external. I would say to each of you – YOU are the patriots of this nation – to those of you have served at home and abroad, to those of you have served in combat and to those of you that have supported us with all that was needed and to those of you who are spouses, loved ones and ESPECIALLY to YOU care givers helping those needing a little extra help along the way..

My Father served during WWII and has been gone now for many decades.

It has been 56 years since I was fortunate enough to come home from the rice paddies and jungles of the Mekong Delta, South Vietnam. In 2016 I took my 2 sons and went back to Vietnam to only those places that held special significance for me and those I served with. In doing so, every day while we were there, I recorded in a journal events from long ago – and – and feelings and impressions now – to be preserved. I have made copies of that journal and have given it to my two sons, my four daughters and my wife – “SO THEY WOULD KNOW” while I am still here.

Regardless of when or where served, whether in a nuclear submarine in the depths of the sea, or an F4 Phantom fighter jet, whether in ground combat operations, whether in a munitions location, or in a motor pool, or military intelligence, or any other military support environment, or the military reserves, whether called to serve or volunteered to serve – a grateful nation offers “ job well done thou good and faithful servant” to those who have gone before us – and - to each of you - here - today.

You are the living catalyst of preserving and passing on to the next generation the sacrifices of the living and of the dead that give you and me the freedoms we enjoy today. May I extend the invitation to each you to share “your story” to those you love. It took me several decades before I did or before I could. May YOU NOT delay in doing so. If you do – a significant portion of our country’s history will be lost – forever.

We salute and honor you and heroes lost – both now – and in the eternities. May God bless them and each of you and – and may God continue to bless this great land – these United States – the LAND OF THE FREE - AND - THE HOME OF THE BRAVE due to your honoring those living - and honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.


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