Editor's note: This item first appeared on Dec. 25, 2011:
You will not be forgotten this Christmas.
In a small country called Vietnam in Southeast Asia, the U.S. participated in a 10-year war against communist insurgents called the North Vietnam Army (NVA) and the National Liberation Front called the Vietcong. The last rounds were fired in 1975 and the last helicopter lifted from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon when the Vietnam War had officially ended. With its end came the price one pays for going to war, a price that is not counted in dollars but a price paid with human lives. It was war that some believed we needed to be in no matter what the cost.
The war ended and most people in our country went back to their normal way of life, but for some it wasn't so. Wars demand each side must pay a price.
When it came to the U.S., she lost 38,209 from her Army, 14,838 from her Marines, 2,555 from her Navy, 2584 from her Air Force, seven from her Coast Guard and 17 U.S. civilians. She also sent 153,452 American military personnel back wounded - some disabled for life.
With Christmas here and everyone ready for the holiday season, we all need to take some time and remember those who paid the ultimate price that was demanded from war. The war didn't exclude Chautauqua County from the pain or sorrow; it made sure everyone felt the powers war has to take loved ones away . When we open our gifts this Christmas and enjoy the holiday season please keep in mind that there are families among us who will be spending another Christmas without that special person that was taken for the price of war. That special person who had just wanted to serve his country, represent his city, town or village, and just do his duty.
Fallen Local Heroes:
David L. Ferry, Army. We lost David on Aug. 22, 1968.
David William Coon, Fredonia, U.S Army. We lost David on Jan. 1, 1971. Panel 05, Line 052.
Ricky J. Hills, Army, Perrysburg. We lost Ricky on July 29, 1970.
David Paul Anderson, Westfield, USMC. We lost David on April 12, 1968. Panel 23E, Line 009,
Every Christmas Eve at the Vietnam Memorial there are hundreds who come at midnight all for the same reason, placing cards and letters for their fallen loved ones.
The cards are usually from grandchildren who had never had the chance to meet grandpa yet they tell him how much they love and miss him. The letters are usually from loved ones telling the veteran how the family is doing. When this is done, the visitors start shaking hands with the others, then end up in conversation.
Making sure to list all fallen heroes the names of the above veterans were obtained from the Vietnam veterans memorial site at www.virtualwall.org. The photos were supplied by Al Valentin, town of Portland historian and John D'Agostino.
Chautauqua County first felt the pain of the Vietnam War when we laid to rest PFC. Harry Leonard Kaus, a U.S. Marine from Dunkirk in August 1965. A county in mourning had no idea of what yet was to come.
The war was escalating and the fallen heroes were still being sent home for final burial. In the year of 1968 - the worst year - the county counted 12 more brave veterans who paid the price of a war with still no end in sight. In 1971, the county witnessed its last fallen hero to this war. Roy Kenneth Steward, U.S. Army soldier, was lost Nov. 28, 1971.
The burials have officially ended, but we still are adding more names that this war has taken; last year Chautauqua County had Dunkirk's Michael Gregoreski's name added to the in memory program, a site put next to the wall for veterans who have lost their lives due to the Vietnam War.
Each and every name listed above is more then a name, date and line number.
Every name has a story with it. These brave Americans all had parents, brothers, sisters and some wives and children. No one will ever know what life would have brought to all that we lost. I wish I had the opportunity to do more stories on these fallen heroes.
When you are around your tree this Christmas Eve, try to remember that in Washington, D.C., near midnight, on Dec. 24 it is cold, dark and always windy, but from one end of the Memorial Wall to the other the lights seem to flicker just a little brighter and for a few minutes the wind blows a bit warmer.