Vietnam veterans honored at banquet

Rep. LeAnne Burch, a retired brigader general in the U.S. Army Reserve, salutes an Ashley County veteran during a banquet honoring those who served in the Vietnam Conflict.

The Arkansas Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Ashley County Veteran’s Affair’s office hosted a banquet last week to honor Ashley County’s Vietnam Veterans.

Brandy Dye with the Ashley County office said the banquet was a special way to honor those who weren’t able to make the state’s banquet in Little Rock in March.

President Barack Obama signed a proclamation in 2012 stating that May 28, 2012 until Nov. 11, 2025 would be the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a proclamation for the State of Arkansas On Nov. 15, 2017, that proclaimed March 29, 2018, as the official Commemoration of the 50 Anniversary of the Vietnam War in the state. Hutchinson likewise announced that the state would host a ceremony for the Vietnam veterans in the state on that day.

Dye said there were several veterans from Ashley County who were able to attend the March celebration, but there was still a large number who did not.

Because of that, on Thursday Dye, along with the ADVA and community volunteers, hosted a banquet to honor those who were not able to go to Little Rock on March 29.

“I consider all of the Ashley County veterans as ‘my’ veterans and I wanted to do something special just for you guys,” Dye said.

District 9 Rep. LeAnne Burch, a retired brigadier general, and retired Col. Nathaniel Todd of the ADVA were the guest speakers at the event.

“This commemoration is our country’s way of saying we messed and now we want to do it over,” Burch said. “We don’t get many do-overs in the military.”

Master of Ceremony and Vietnam Veteran Robert Spicer announced each veteran’s name, including his own, as Burch presented their certificates.

Burch said that it was honor to be able to not only speak to the veterans, but she also took a moment to salute each one before she gave them their award.

County Judge Jim Hudson welcomed guests, and Sam Finney was there to lead the group in prayer.

The Crossett Future Farmers of America group were also present to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and assist with serving.

Those honored included Darwin Adams,Richard Atwell, Tilmon Barnes, Austin Brooks, Donald Bryant, David Chaput, Robert Davis, Samuel Finney, Deborah Fletcher, Thomas Glover, Charles Harmon, Roy Hornbuckle, Johnny Huffstetler, Carie Jackson, William Maxwell, Garland McAnally, Charles Moore, Darryl Morgan, Jack Netherland, Frankie Nelms, John Nowlin, Charles Reeves, Ronnie Rice, Larry Rodgers, Tommy Shumpert, Bill Spurlock, Billy Taunton, Earnest Thompson, Ronald Tippen, Willie Washington, Billy Watt, Freddy Willis, James Young and Robert Spicer.

Dye said the community really stepped up to make the banquet a success.

Enable Midstream provided and served the meal, and First Baptist Church allowed the use of their building free of charge.

Gail Tippen and Lori Pennington provided decorations and helped Dye decorate, and Brian Merriweather provided the centerpieces for the tables.

Landry Cotton of Hamburg performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and a Christmas song titled, “Mary Did You Know”.

“I am so thankful that we have a community that gives and supports our efforts,” Dye said.

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