Fallen Vietnam veterans are remembered at South Boston memorial
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In Vietnam, he knew the Marine only as âTurner.â
Jack Cassidy, 72, who served in war as a Navy corpsman and was known as âDoc,â never forgot that name. He was there when Lance Corporal Donald J. Turner was killed.
Turnerâs name is one of 25 etched into the South Bost on Vietnam Memorial. He was one of six friends who joined the military together from South Boston, and one of three who did not return.Advertisement
âIt was a brotherhood,â Cassidy said. âIt still is. It always is.âGet Fast Forward in your inbox: Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email. Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here
Cassidy, who was attached to the Marine Corps in Vietnam, returned from service plagued by his memories of the war â" until he found some healing in sharing.
He came across Turnerâs name while visiting the South Boston memorial several years ago.
A longtime friend of his, Paul Doyle, arranged a meeting between Cassidy, Turnerâs widow, and the son Turner never met. Donald J. Turner Jr. was 1 month old when his father died.
âI walked into the restaurant to have lunch and I sa w his son, Donald Jr., sitting there and I started to cry,â Cassidy said. âI looked at his face and I said, âThatâs Donald. He looks like his dad.â And I was able to tell his son how his father died.âAdvertisement
Nearly every year since that day, Cassidy reunites with Donald Turner Jr., now 49, and his mother, Donna Cashins, 69, at the annual rededication of the South Boston Vietnam Memorial, which was held Sunday. The event is in its 37th consecutive year.
After the ceremony, they looked at old pictures of Donald Turner Sr.
âI think itâs nice for [Don Jr.] to come back and meet all of big Donnieâs friends,â Cashins said. âI think itâs a wonderful experience because we had such a good camaraderie when we were growing up.â
Turner would be point man at the head of a line in Vietnam when he didnât have to, Cassidy said. He didnât want anyone inexperienced to take that position. Thatâs what he was doing when he was killed.
âHis father died a hero,â Cassidy said. âI wanted him to know that somebody was with him, a friend.âAdvertisement
Earlier, Sunday morning, veterans and their families gathered at St. Brigid Church for a memorial Mass and then crossed the street for the rededication of the memorial in Medal of Honor Park. The ceremony also honored the late Senator John McCain.
âIâm so grateful to the folks who stepped up 37 years ago. . . and said these were people, these were our friends.ââ" Charlie Baker, governor, at the memorial rededication
âThe country, but especially Vietnam veterans lost a wonderful champion on their behalf,â said US Representative Stephen Lynch of McCain.
City and state leaders attended including Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and the keynote address was delivered by Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel.
âThat decision that th e folks here in this community made to create this memorial, which as far as I can tell was the first to honor those who served and sacrificed in Vietnam, was that proverbial pebble in the ocean,â Baker said. âIt was from there that the ripple to separate the person from the conflict first began. . . . Iâm so grateful to the folks who stepped up 37 years ago at a time when it wasnât popular to do so and said these were people, these were our friends.â
Tommy Lyons, a Vietnam veteran and chairman of the South Boston Vietnam Memorial Committee, has attended every rededication since he and four others got together nearly 40 years ago to raise the money for the memorial and organize the first event.
He said he thinks of those 25 names every single day.
âFor it is us who have been charged with the awesome responsibility of giving meaning and, yes, even life to the ultimate sacrifice they made on our behalf,â Lyons said.Cristela Guerra can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam