Fifth annual Veterans’ ceremony memorial held
The fifth annual Veterans’ Memorial ceremony was held at White Pine High School on Tuesday, Nov. 10. The event is held to honor and keep the memory alive of local veterans who served our country and to show the students the sacrifices that all veterans made to insure our freedom. Richard Howe read a story about local veterans who gave their all. “Many of these kids know very little about veterans so it is all about educating and informing the kids about the sacrifices it took to keep this country free”, said Howe, who himself is a veteran. Howe’s story is as follows.
By Richard Howe
Special to the Times
The “Purple Heart” is a distinguished medal given to all soldiers wounded in combat in defense of or country. During the last entry hundreds of young men from White Pine County, Nevada have received this award. 127 of them posthumously.”
This is a story about the young veterans from the small communities of Ely, Ruth, McGill, Lund, Baker, and Cherry Creek located in eastern Nevada, and the sacrifices they made in defense of our country.
The young men from White Pine County have always done their part when it came time to defend democracy. We are the sons of 1st, 2nd generation Immigrants. They instilled in each of us the pride in serving and defending our country. You see these men survived two World Wars and also survived the “great Depression.”
In the 1960s as the fighting in Vietnam escalated into a full blown war the call went out to the young men serving America to do their part. Soon after your 18th birthday you would receive a letter in the mail, it came in a long white envelope and when you opened it you only needed to read the leading greetings: Yes you had been drafted into the military. Here in White Pine County it was no different, hundreds of young men from the mining and agriculture of eastern Nevada were also called to do their part.
From our small population 15 young men would pay the ultimate price. Each of these heroes left the comfort and safety of home not knowing that their lives would be cut short by the parols of war.
Not even old enough to vote or go in for a beer, away they went leaving behind their loved ones; off to southeast Asia to defend democracy and stop the spread of communism. Yes off they went like their fathers before them to foreign soul. But unlike their fathers who returned home to a heroes welcome after WWII, the Vietnam vet returned to jeers and ridicule. But this didn’t matter to the young vets of the 1960s, they knew that they had done their duty to their country.
As the war raged on in the mid to late 60’s the causalities mounted, nearly 60,000 young men from across America would give their lives.
We here in White Pine County weren’t immures to victims of war, from our small population we gave 15 heroes. Each of them came from different walks of life. One was the last son of a Spring Valley ranching family, one was the son of the County Clerk, one was raised by his grandmother, one was a graduate of Annopolis, one was a career soldier. Nine of them didn’t even reach their 20th birthday.
Some were highly decorated, one young medic received the Bronze Star, the Bronze Star with the oak leaf cluster and the Bronze Star with the ‘V’ for valor. Yet another received the second highest medal, “this distinguished service cross. He was put in for the “Congressional Medal of Honor”. There is an effort to get his care reopened to get Joseph A. Garcia the award he so richly deserves.
I always try and put myself in their shoes and send a message to all of you, a message from the heart from each of them.
Thank s for coming were all glad you came;
We know that life without us has not been the same;
But we had a job to do
To defend freedom for each one of you;
We realize back home there were protests and more;
But we were busy fighting the Vietnam War;
Don’t blame us we were stuck in between;
Please! Always remember us as the White Pine 15.
“There is no more honorable way to die than giving your life in defense of your country.”
White Pine 15: Gary Steel, Joseph Bowers, Richard “Dick” Yelland, Gregory Helsley, Jimmy Cue, Steven Larsen, Rick Jensen, Richard Griffith, Lane Crane, Frank Thomas, Joseph A. Garcia, Steven Howe, Tim Carter, Larry Hygison, John Piccinini.
The citizens of White Pine County have always recognized the veterans, our pride is displayed each Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day. Every Memorial Day a flag is placed on the grave of every vetrans that ever served. It is evident by the sea of red, white and blue. Over the years, thousands of young White Piners have served proudly. We thank them all.