NHS Class of '68 to honor Its Vietnam-era veterans

By On August 06, 2018

NHS Class of '68 to honor Its Vietnam-era veterans

Jack Lundell from Norwalk High School's class of 1968 served as a U.S. Marine as a radio operator in Vietnam. He was killed when, left alone in the communications bunker while his unit was out on patrol, enemy soldiers threw an improvised bomb into it. Dave Ballard (foreground) is shown here in a photo from March, 1971 with children from the Vietnamese village of Dong Ha along with a man Ballard knew only as Sergeant Nance, door gunner on the CH47 helicopter. Ballard was the helicopter crew chief. Ballard and his wife, Bonnie, also from the class of 1968, live in Norwalk. no avatar NHS Class of ’68 to honor Its Vietnam-era veterans By JIM BUSEK • Today at 4:00 AM

1968 has been called the most tumultuous year in modern history.

It was a year of seismic social and political change across the globe.

North Korea captured the U.S.S. Pueblo and held its 82 person crew hostage for months.

Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Robert Kennedy was assassinated.

The Tet Offensive made the Vietnam War seem more hopeless than ever.

Students were protesting all over the world.

The Democratic National Convention in Chicago was marked by trouble-seeking protesters and police violence.

Richard Nixon was elected president.

Medal winners on the U.S. Olympic team in Mexico City raised their fists in a black power salute.

Ghettos were torched in cities throughout the country.

And at 80 East Main Street in Norwalk, Ohio, 194 young men and women were completing their senior year at Norwalk High School.

As with all the other area schools â€" St. Paul, Milan, Berlin Heights, Western Reserve, Monroeville, South Central, New London, indeed, all the schools in the country â€" it has been 50 years since their graduation day.

The 1968 Truckers will be celebrating with a 50 year reunion at 6 p.m. August 18 at the Eagles Club on Cline Street.

They will be doing all the usual reminiscing and telling each other how great they look and laughing at the fact that almost everyone in the Class of ’68 now IS 68.

But one member of that NHS class, Nancy Lehan Rife, has been working to do another very important thing that night. And classmate Travis Chapin agrees wholeheartedly.

“These days, it seems like individuals in military service get the respect they deserve for serving our country. There are special segments on some TV news shows to recognize those on active duty. And at sporting events there is often a call for military veterans to stand be applauded for their commitment to our liberty,” Chapin said. “I am really happy to see that.

“But that’s not how it was in 1968,” Rife reminds us. “Things were bad in Vietnam. And images of dead and wounded U.S. soldiers were in the news all the time. But young people from all over the country continued to join the military and serve, 25 from our class alone.”

Not all of them ended up in Vietnam, but the potential for possible combat duty was always there.

“I have so much respect for everyone who makes a commitment to military service,” Rife continues.

“Unfortunately, as I said, that’s not how it was in 1968 and several years after. People returned from military serviceâ€"some of them after experiencing the horrors of warâ€"and not only were they not honored for their service, sometimes they were taunted as ‘baby killers’ or worse. Some of them were permanently scarred by their experience.”

Chapin adds, “Of course today it’s easy to be critical of the youth of any era for their lack of military appreciation. But even our class of ’68 fifty years ago was totally unaware that we were being nurtured and educated by the Greatest Generation, the veterans of World War II who were all around us. We didn’t have a clue of their sacrifice”

Rife explains how the NHS Class of 1968 will attempt to show its gratitude to its Vietnam era veterans.

“We can never thank them enough, of course,” said Rife who now lives in Swanton. “But I want to make sure the military veterans from the Norwalk High Class of 1968 know how much we honor and respect their service to our country. Toward that end, we are collecting donations for a commemorative plaque listing the names of all our veterans and offering our sincerest gratitude for their service. The one we have in mind is brass and will hang in a place of prominence at Norwalk High School.

“I remember seeing the war plaques on display in the old Norwalk High School. And when I visited my father’s church, there was a huge brass plaque with his nameâ€"Bernard C Lehanâ€"and more than 200 others who had served in World War II. I sinc erely believe that veterans from our class deserve a plaque that seventy years from now can show how we honored them. Students can walk through the hall and remember.”

Rife has also composed a heartfelt letter to be shared with each veteran from the class, thanking them for their service.

“Of course it is too late to thank our classmates Jack Lundell and Krag Roids who were killed in action in Vietnam. But we will honor their memory, just the same.”

The following members of the Norwalk High Class of 1968 served during the Vietnam era:

Dave Ballard

Rich Barnett

Alan Barr

Steve Boles

Fred Boose

Wallie Coder

Roger Crisp

John Dials

Alan Derby

Ron Dymond

Roger Endsley

Bob Ewell

Wayne Francisco

Dale Hammersmith

Tom Hendrickson

Jim Hunter

John Kluding

Jack Lundell

Jim Meisler

Dennis Pflieger

Larry Reilly

Krag Royds

Jim Sitterly

Tom Wechter

Theodore Whitney

Recommended for YouSource: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam

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