Two veterans who served during the Vietnam War shared their memories at Hannibal's Memorial Day services, asking the public to honor the surviving veterans.
Before the flag raising at Grand View Burial Park, State Rep. Jim Hansen said he remained stateside during the war but knew many soldiers who served in Vietnam.
Vietnam veteran and American Legion Post 55 Past Commander Jim Miller spoke at the American Legion service Monday morning, sharing his memories as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Four thousand people died that day alone, while 8,000 men died in the Revolutionary War, more than 2,000 in the War of 1812, and 750,000 in the Civil War, including 50,000 at Gettysburg, Penn., Hansen said. After 116,000 died in World War I, Hansen said, 405,000 died in World War II, and 54,000 in the Korean War. Hansen had high school and college classmates fighting in Vietnam, where 58,000 died, he said. In the Iraq War, 4,497 died, and 6,800 have died in the current War on Terrorism, he said.
Hansen urged people to contact veterans and “be a part of their lives.”
Pastor Ronn Pashia encouraged everyone to teach their children to “be proud of our nation” and to fly a flag at their home before reading the names of veterans buried at Grand View Burial Park. Doug Hosmer distributed flags for the families to raise.
A flag honoring Medal of Honor winner Arthur J. Forrest was presented to Titus Mullin, a member of Trail Life MO1412. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other Trail Life members raised flags for veterans without a family member present. Hosmer was grateful no rain fell during the service and flag raising, which concluded with a gun salute and the playing of Taps.
The American Legion service began at 10 a.m. and also was blessed with sunny weather, as it also featured a gun salute and outdoor playing of taps.
At the American Legion Hall, Miller told an attentive crowd that more than 1 million men and women have given their lives in military service. He served three terms in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, and said Vietnam veterans are now the ones going on Honor Flights to Washington.
“Fifty years ago today” Miller was flying a helicopter in Vietnam, and he said there are still 38 Missouri soldiers missing and unaccounted for there. Of 11,827 helicopters used there, 5,086 were completely destroyed, Miller said. They had “thin, aluminum skin and flew at altitudes well within the range of small arms fire.” Helicopters did 850,000 evacuations, which helped the survival rate of the injured go from 10 percent in previous wars to 90 percent in Vietnam, but 2,996 pilots and 2,776 helicopter crew members died there, he said.
Miller said 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam and 1,448 on their last day, before they were scheduled to leave.
Most Americans see numbers when reading about a war, but Miller said, “We see the faces, and we feel the pain these numbers created.”
He encouraged everyone attending the service to honor veterans.
See photo gallery for more pictures of the Memorial Day services.