Long ago, but not forgotten

GEORGETOWN — Vietnam was a war that divided America.

More than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam and more than 304,000 were wounded.

Vietnam War veteran Bruce Graber said it is estimated that over 271,000 Vietnam veterans may still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. “When our troops returned home many weren’t warmly received,” Mr. Graber said.

Friday, on National Vietnam War Veterans Day, the 26 men from Sussex County who gave their lives in that Asian conflict were remembered in a well-attended Vietnam War Veterans Remembrance Day on The Circle in Georgetown.

“We recognize the sacrifices of these and many of the families who suffered from the tragedy of war so very long ago,” said Joe Moore, president of Vietnam Veterans of America/Sussex County Chapter 1105. “Our primary purpose today on National Vietnam War Veterans Day is to remember, to honor and to speak the names of the 26 Sussex County soldiers, Marines and airmen who paid the ultimate price for freedom.”

“The Vietnam War, as all wars do, showed us again that freedom has never been, nor is it now, nor will it ever in the future be free,” said Mr. Moore. “Our nation’s freedoms are paid for in blood by those who give their tomorrows so that we can have our todays.”

The town of Georgetown is taking perpetuating remembrance to another level. Family members to the five fallen Georgetown men – Cpl. Vaughn O’Neill Hall; WO Frank Warren Jones; Lance Cpl. George Edward Partin; Cpl. Richard Charles Stevenson; and Cpl. Rodney Wayne Wilson – were on hand to hear of special street-naming tributes planned by the town.

“Families, thank you very much for coming out today and showing your support,” said Georgetown Mayor Bill West. “I know it’s rough when you lose a loved one, especially at young ages. There are memories, good memories, and then there are the memories of not coming home.”

“Well I can tell you right now, from this point on, the people in Georgetown will not forget,” Mayor West said. “We’ve got two new developments that are starting, one behind Walmart and one out by 16 Mile, and we are going to dedicate a street to the five individuals that were lost from Georgetown. I just want the people of this town to know and the families to know, they might be gone but they will never be forgotten.”

Formal dedications will be held once developments are ready.

“It’s a chance to remember. There is not a family of the five from Georgetown that I don’t have some kind of connection with. And this gives me great pride to be able to do this, and not only to honor them later on … but to say, ‘Welcome home vets.’ You never got that. You need that welcome home,” said Mayor West. “It means a lot to the town of Georgetown and it means a lot to the veterans. Thank you for your service. Thank you for what you have done for this country. We wouldn’t be able to do things if we wanted to if it wasn’t for you.”

Ann Faucett and Jane Day, sisters of Richard “Dickie” Stevenson, who was killed on Feb. 23, 1969 at age 19, say it is a beautiful tribute.

“We’re very proud; that commemorates his service,” said Ms. Faucett, noting that their father served in the Army and then the National Guard. “So, we’re very proud of their service.”

“I think it’s wonderful. It’s an honor to have that memory,” said Ms. Day. “I think it’s nice that it has turned around for everybody.”

Former State Sen. George H. Bunting Jr. a Vietnam veteran who was wounded in combat, spoke of his cousin, William “Joe” Bunting of Frankford, who was killed in neighboring Cambodia shortly after arriving in Vietnam in 1970.

“Joe was just one of those young men that you can’t get out of your head sometimes because of the type of person he was. Joe was like so many others that we all served with, so many friends,” said Mr. Bunting. “My cousin Joe, and thinking about the timeframe, 39,000 men never saw past their 22nd birthday, and 31,000 of those were 18 years of age. It’s remarkable today when we look back on those numbers and how many young lives were lost.”

Mr. Bunting said most American will see only the numbers of the Vietnam War. “Those of us who survived, and at only 74 I’m watching one after another of my friends I served with, either Agent Orange is taking them, or life is taking them … some the issues they’ve had to deal with through life.”

“To the families that are here today of those who did not (return), we see faces. We feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers,” said Mr. Bunting. “There are no noble wars. There are just noble warriors.”

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