Sunday, June 02, 2002

Park road named for fallen Viet hero

By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Janet Hall Meadows still has no grave to visit, but she welcomes having a place where she can reflect on her brave brother's life. On May 18, she attended a ceremony during which the main road in Kenton County's Banklick Woods Park was named Gary Lee Hall Drive.

        “It will be a nice place for us to remember him, since we can't go to a cemetery,” says Mrs. Meadows, who is 48 and lives in Tollesboro, Ky. “It's a nice tribute to him.”

        A year ago Tempo told the story of Gary Lee Hall, one of the last casualties of the Vietnam War. In May 1975 he was among a contingent of Marines sent to rescue the 40-man crew of the SS Mayaguez, a U.S. merchant ship seized by Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.

        The Marines attacked Koh Tang island, believing the crew was there. In fact, the Khmer Rouge released them before the fighting began.

        After a fierce 14-hour battle, the Marines pulled out in darkness. Pfc. Hall was part of a three-man machine-gun team that defended their collapsing perimeter. The three were accidentally left behind.

        It's believed the Marines were captured and executed. Their remains were never recovered.

        Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd presided over the street dedication, which was attended by members of Pfc. Hall's family, friends and a number of veterans.

        In February, Fort Mitchell lawyer Charles Pangburn III, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, requested the honor for Pfc. Hall, and members of Kenton Fiscal Court quickly approved. A rose-colored monument will be placed near the park entrance.

        Another resident, Missy Beach, suggested that the Covington Board of Education erect a plaque in honor of Pfc. Hall in Holmes High School, his alma mater. That's expected to happen in September.


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