Local Veterans Day program to feature Vietnam War dead monument

A Veterans Day ceremony at Memorial Park’s Veterans’ Memorial in Huntington will include the dedication of plaques honoring Huntington County men who died in Korea and Vietnam, as well as the unveiling and dedication of a monument to the Vietnam War dead.

The ceremony will take place on Saturday, Nov. 11, following a parade down Huntington’s main street.

The parade will leave Huntington North High School at 10 a.m. and travel east on MacGahan Street, south on North Jefferson Street and west on West Park Drive to Memorial Park.

Vietnam veteran Gary W. Minton, of Huntington, is the parade’s grand marshal.

The parade will end at the park’s Veterans’ Memorial, where a musical prelude will be provided by the Erie Band and the Company Singers. Taryn Fusselman will sing the national anthem.

Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters will be the main speaker for the ceremony, and representatives of U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks will read letters from the legislators.

Tim Eckert, Huntington County veterans service officer, will follow Fetters’ speech with a roll call of Huntington County men who were killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars as plaques bearing the names of those men are dedicated.

Korean War dead from Huntington County are Thomas Edwards, John Guynn, Robert Hosler, Ralph Hubartt Jr., Carl McVoy, William Mitchell, Ralph Sands, Charles Sturdivant and John Welches.

Vietnam War dead from Huntington County, are Gary Archibald, Gary Biehl, Gregorio Bustos, Mike Bustos, Robert Elston, Gregory Fleck, Terry Graft, Daryl Lowery, Floyd Noe, Thomas Parker, James Paul, Thomas Perry, Lloyd Pinkerton, Ronald Rogers, Richard Scheiber, Thomas Wardrop III and Thomas Worrel.

Dedication of the plaques will be followed by the dedication of the new Vietnam War monument.

The monument is a likeness of Thomas Aquinas Parker, one of the 17 Huntington County men killed in Vietnam and the only one whose body was never recovered.

Two Vietnam veterans who served with Parker, Stan Lesniewski and Don Campbell, will dedicate the statue. Lesniewski will read a statement from Campbell, who is unable to speak because of a medical condition caused by the Agent Orange he was exposed to in Vietnam. Campbell spearheaded the fund-raising for the statue paying tribute to Parker and other Vietnam veterans.

The $70,000 statue was funded through gifts and in-kind donations, including the donation of lighting by PeGan Electric Inc. of Huntington.

Thomas Aquinas Parker, grandson and namesake of the man who died in Vietnam, will explain the significance of “Taps” — the military bugle call often used to pay tribute to the dead — before a bugler from the United States Navy Band plays the tune.

An American Huey that was flown during the Vietnam War will be at the monument during the ceremony and will be stationed at Huntington North High School throughout the day.

Following the events, a free lunch for veterans will be served from noon until 4 p.m. at American Legion Post 85, 1410 S. Jefferson St., Huntington.