Monday, May 31, 2004

Flag park salutes veterans

3 who died in Vietnam inspired effort

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST HARRISON, Ind. - The stone plaque is surrounded by a crescent moon of flags - the U.S. flag displayed most prominently, flanked by flags for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard.

Major Charles Allen Huff salutes the new flag raised at Amvet Post 13 at the Memorial Flag Park Dedication ceremony in Harrison on Sunday.
(Melissa Heatherly photo)
Fifteen names grace the plaque, a memorial to members of Amvets Post 13 here who have passed away in the decade since the post at 515 S. State St. was founded.

But the first three names - Donald A. Baker, Arnold Mathis and John D. Pies - bore special recognition Sunday in the dedication for a memorial flag park at the veterans post, just across the road from Ohio in West Harrison, Ind.

Those three, all natives of the Harrison area who died in the Vietnam War, were the inspiration for those who formed this Amvets post.

"We built this flag park in honor of our comrades who already passed on," said Dottie Kist, post commander and a Navy radio operator in World War II. "They deserve all the recognition we can give for their fighting for us and keeping us free. No one can now predict what the future may hold, but let us pray for peace."

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Why we remember
Braving a persistent rain that stopped minutes after the dedication, more than 50 veterans and residents of the area came here a day before Memorial Day to celebrate the flag park and to wax patriotic about their home.

Their keynote speaker, Major Charles Allen Huff, recently returned from a three-month stint as a medic in Baghdad, and he told a story about an American soldier whose fuel truck was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Huff cared for the 20-year-old soldier for 12 hours. The soldier later died. "I was so honored and privileged to take care of him, and I would do it again for anyone," Huff said.

Harrison parade

Three local veterans organizations will come together this morning for the annual Memorial Day parade in Harrison. The parade will start at 10 a.m. at Harrison Elementary School, 600 E. Broadway.



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