Vets pay tribute to Joe Junior Mask
Monette American Legion Post #136 held its annual luncheon Saturday, Nov. 6, and paid tribute to fallen veteran Joe Junior Mask.
Post Commander Larry Rolland welcomed fellow veterans, family and visitors to the noon luncheon of barbecue, side dishes and desserts.
"We are glad to have some of Junior's family with us today," Reed said. "He was an honorable man and we wanted to recognize him today for his bravery and service."
Family members present included Diane (Mask) and Randy Dunn and Ray and Carol Jo Mask. The other four Mask siblings are Laythan Mask of Canton, Texas, Ricky Mask, also of Canton, Cathy Shoemate of Salem, and Vickie Hanes of Collierville, Tenn.
Army Sgt. First Class Joe Junior Mask was born Sept. 11, 1943. He died from multiple fragmentation wounds in Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam on May 4, 1968.
"Junior was in the Army for six years before he was killed," Reed said. "His body was recovered and sent home for burial. He was the only soldier from Monette that was killed during the Vietnam War."
Reed read three letters from loved ones who had written letters about Junior on the anniversary dates of his death.
A letter from Junior Mask's widow Bernadette Mask-McLeroy was received on May 4, 2010, and read, "It has been almost 42 years since you parted from my side, and I still love you. The sacrifice you did for the men under your command during evacuation was what you always stood for unselfishly. You gave your life so that those may have made it out safely. I thank you for giving me the freedom to enjoy this country that you brought me to. I am making the most of it and sharing your memories with others to this day."
"Thank you for the ultimate sacrifice you gave so that others could live," Tim Hershberger wrote on May 4. "Forty-two years ago today you left us. You are not forgotten."
"You are remembered," Fellow Veteran Manny G. wrote. " He which hath no stomach to this fight let him depart. But we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we are a band of brothers. Rest in peace. You have not been forgotten."
"I was still young when Junior died," Diane Dunn said. "I still remember the times he held me in his arms and sang to me. Life hasn't been the same for any of us since he went away."