Vietnam Veterans honored
Vetearns, family members and friends were guests of the American Legion Herman Davis Post 197 following the first "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans" parade held in Manila on Saturday, March 31.
The event was held in conjunction with National Vietnam War Veterans Day, March 29. It was sponsored by the Manila Depot Museum Committee, the city of Manila and the Herman Davis American Legion Post 197. Members of the HD Post grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for the large crowd.
Local 4-H club members manned children's games on the grounds throughout the day.
Donna Jackson, one of the organizers of the parade and celebration, expressed her appreciation to everyone who helped make the day a great success and thanked the veterans for their service.
Veterans from throughout the area had the opportunity to meet and spend time together. They were greeted with many thanking them for their service.
Eddie Joe Barker, a Vietnam veteran and Manila native, made several presentations on behalf of Veterans Helping Veterans of NEA. Barker, now of Jonesboro, is a charter member of the organization.
"I am proud to be here," Barker said. "I am proud of Manila for this event and I am proud of our veterans. All veterans deserve a statue and certificate."
Providing bronze statues and certificates is only one part of the many services the Veterans Helping Veterans undertake.
Barker presented a statue and certificate to Lt. Col. Dave Wallace of Leachville. Wallace presently serves in the Arkansas Senate.
Lt. Col. Wallace was with the U.S. Army from Oct. 7, 1970, to Feb. 1, 1991. He was a senior Army officer, an attack helicopter gunship pilot and Commander of Air Cavalry Units in the 101st Airborne, 1st Air Cavalry and the Big Red One. Awards include Legion of Merit, 3 Dist. Flying Crosses, Bronze Star Medal and Air Medal for Valor. He is a member of the Arkansas Military Hall of Fame, Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame, and the ASU Hall of Heroes.
Wallace thanked Barker and assisted him in recognizing and presenting awards to other area veterans including Fred Greathouse of Leachville, J.C. Green, Dale Blaylock, Ray Dill, all of Manila, and one in memory of Garvin Dill.
Specialist 5 Greathouse served in the U.S. Army from May 1966 to May 1969: a communicator with the Phy Lam, Signal Battalion from Dec. 1966 to Dec. 1967. Greathouse received several Vietnam combat medals.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Oran Ray Dill served with the U.S. Navy Vietnam Seabees: Mobile Construction Battalion 11. He was the administration contract officer, for 3rd Marine Divison, serving in Camp Adenir (DaNang), and Camp Barnes (Dong Ha-DMZ). He earned several Vietnam combat medals.
Army Ranger Specialist 4 Green served in the U.S. Army February 1967 to June 1970. He was with India Co. 75th Airborne Rangers, 1st Inf. Div. He was with LREP, Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols operating deep in enemy held territory. He was awarded two Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, Air Medal and CIB.
Specialist 5 Blaylock served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968. He was assigned to the 45th 25th and 203rd Military Intelligence Detachments /185th M.I. Company/Saigon. He earned several Vietnam combat medals.
"The last one we will present today is a special one to me," Barker said. "Garvin Wayne Dill was a fellow classman. He gave the ultimate sacrifice. Gavin was a good friend."
Gavin's brother, Ray Dill, accepted the statue and certificate.
Barker read the certificate:
"Veterans Helping Veterans of NEA; Presented Posthumously 3/31/2018; to: Sergeant Gavin Wayne Dill
U.S. Army Infantry: This Vietnam Combat and Cold War Veteran earned numerous awards for Valor & Herioism while assigned to Co. A. 1st Bn. 8th Cavalry, 1st Air Calvalry Division (Airmobile), the "First Team." He served with Honor and Distinction at a critical time during our Nation's History. His service reflects great credit upon himself, the U.S. Army and America's Armed Forces."
Senator Wallace closed the ceremony thanking Manila, Donna Jackson, and the Herman Davis American Legion Post for the day.
"Tears came to my eyes as I rode in the parade with fellow veterans and saw all of you on the street" he said. "I appreciate all of you who are here today. You did not have to be here. I thank my fellow Vietnam brothers. We left 58,000 there. You and I think of them every day. We stood our watch. Vietnam was an unpopular war. We did not always get a warm reception when we came home but we came back and helped build this country. Thank you all."