Wescom News Service
BROOKINGS Marines of the Crescent City-based Calvin E. Murphy Detachment #578 participated in a Memorial Day weekend ceremony in Brookings.
The Marines fired a three-round salute, which was followed by the playing of taps, near the end of a ceremony Friday at Brookings City Hall.
Speaking beneath the flags of the United States, Oregon and those missing in action, Vietnam veteran Sam Vitale told the 35 people who had gathered for the ceremony that combat veterans "know something others will thankfully never know, something the movie screen will never portray, something the real-time media coverage can never communicate."
"We know the smell of war, but do not possess the vocabulary to share the smell of death," he said.
Vitale led Vietnam Veterans of American #757 Friday evening in reading the names of all 671 Oregonians who died in the U.S. conflict at the group's annual roll call.
Members also read the names of the five casualties from Curry County and the family members of fallen soldiers who now live in the area.
"Each man we knew who fell in combat remains as old as he will ever be," Vitale said. "Most were dead before they truly lived."
Below the podium were 38 Prisoner of War and Missing In Action flags, representing the 38 Oregonians still listed in one of those two categories. In front of the flags, five glow sticks in glass jars represented the five local casualties.
Most of those who came Friday were veterans of the war.
"It's just nice to be associated with this," Mike Darling said. Darling served with C Company of the 504th Military Police Battalion. "It's the sense of camaraderie," he said. "I don't know any of these people, but I feel comfortable around them."
Curry County Veteran Services' Officer Frank Van Meter said the significance of the reading laid with veterans both present and gone.
"The most important thing is what it means to the veterans," Van Meter said after reading a list of names. "It's important for veterans now and in the future to know that they are going to be honored."