Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall welcomed to Franklin County

By On October 27, 2018

Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall welcomed to Franklin County

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VETERANS No stories published. Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall welcomed to Franklin County PUBLISHED: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2018 AT 8:24 PM PREV NEXT Order Prints ARTICLE OPTIONS A A print this article e-mail this article

MOIRA â€" John Lancaster still chokes up when talking about the men who served under him in Vietnam.

“They were the good guys, the kind you would want your daughter to marry, the kind you could count on,” Lancaster told the several hundred veterans, law enforcement officers and community members who turned out Thursday morning to welcome the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall to Brushton-Moira American Legion Post 939.

Lancaster, a disabled combat Marine officer, was the featured speaker at the ceremony held to welcome the wall to the area â€" and to commemorate the sacrifices of those whose names are engraved there and those who were lucky enough to return home.

Lancaster recounted the time he served in Vietnam and the 38 men he led as a second lieutenant for six weeks before he was wounded in a firefight â€" one of 18 Americans wounded and four killed in that engagement.

At least 18 North Vietnamese soldiers di ed as well, although an exact count of dead was impossible because their comrades had pulled their bodies from the field. But after the fighting was done, others counted 60 blood trails leading away from the scene.

After the war, on a visit to Vietnam, Lancaster said he realized that although they had been enemies on the battlefield, “Those Vietnamese were good men, too” â€" fighting to protect and serve their country.

With one exception â€" him â€" everyone in Lancaster’s unit was lower middle class or poor, he said. They represented all races and ethnic backgrounds. None had gone to college. Only six were older than 20. Half of them were on their second tour. Still, despite their differences, they bonded, he said.

The men he served with were never far from his mind, Lancaster said, and they were foremost on Nov. 13, 1982, when thousands of people came from all across the country for the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. â€" the monument mirrored in a half-size replica about the length of a football field from where he spoke.

“I broke down and cried” as he watched people line up to pass by the wall, and as he looked for the name of his roommate during officer training school among the then-57,939 names engraved on the monument.

For me this wall of honor was a healing for the gaping wounds in my soul,” he said.

“I remember and commit to honoring their service,” Lancaster said.

Today’s turbulent times are an echo of the 1960s and ‘70s, when disagreements over American policy in Vietnam tore at the country’s fabric, Lancaster said. “We are all spun up in us versus them,” he said.

Putting aside the divisiveness, the incivility and disdain too many Americans hold for their fellow citizens is one way to honor those who fought so that we can hold different points of view, Lancaster said. Everyone should work to become part of the solution to what ails America, he said, add ing that one way to do that is to go to the polls in less than two weeks.

“I will vote and I will be part of the solution,” Lancaster said.

The ceremony welcoming the Moving Wall also included music by the Brushton-Moira school band and chorus, prayers by Post 939 Chaplain Richard Bolster, the Empty Chair ceremony honoring those who remain missing in action, and a recognition of the 24 members of Post 939 who served in Vietnam â€" and one Brushton resident who didn’t return home.

Marine Lance Cpl. Tyrone Francis Lamitie was killed on Feb. 5, 1968, in Quang Tri, at the start of the Tet offensive. Surviving members of his family were recognized during the ceremony.

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