Local vets get special send-off to D.C.


By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@aimmedianetwork.com



One of two buses carries local veterans to Washington, D.C., as Sidney Middle School students line Fair Road to bid farewell Friday morning. The buses were escorted out of the area by two lines of bikers. The veterans will be touring U.S. war memorials on their trip over the weekend.

One of two buses carries local veterans to Washington, D.C., as Sidney Middle School students line Fair Road to bid farewell Friday morning. The buses were escorted out of the area by two lines of bikers. The veterans will be touring U.S. war memorials on their trip over the weekend.


FREDERICK, Md. — With lights flashing and motorcycles roaring, traffic was stopped as 40 Shelby County-area veterans departed the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Sidney Friday morning en route to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built in their honor. Two buses with veterans, caregivers and volunteers arrived in Frederick, Maryland, where they spent the night before traveling to Washington Saturday morning.

Three Vietnam War-era veterans all said they were looking forward to seeing the Vietnam Wall.

Don Sherman, Buddy Terry and George Kyser, all of Sidney, are just a few of the veterans traveling to D.C.

“I’ve been asked several times by Mr. Jim Hall to come on the trip,” said Kyser, who served in the U.S. Army. “I wanted to come and see the memorials and the ‘real’ wall.”

Kyser had visited the Vietnam Traveling Wall when it was in Sidney.

“To see the actual wall, and to get the real feel of the real wall will be a lot different than the Traveling Wall,” said Kyser.

He was also looking forward to the camaraderie of the people on the trip

“I like meeting new people. I knew a few of them on the trip and I didn’t know they were coming,” he said.

Kyser was stationed in Bearcat Camp while he served in Vietnam. The camp was 30 miles southeast of Saigon.

“We were in the mud a lot,” said Kyser.

He was in a mechanized infantry outfit which kept the armed personnel and tanks maintained.

Kyser said he is pleased that the attitude toward Vietnam veterans has changed through the years.

“My son-in-law served in Iraq. It was very different when he came home,” said Kyser. “It’s nice to be recognized for what we did over there and to be appreciated for our service.”

Sherman, who served in the Army National Guard in 1962, said he was encouraged to come on the trip by Mike Bennett.

“Everyone I talked to said the trip was super,” said Sherman.

Sherman was stationed at Fort Sill and trained on howitzers.

“I signed up for six years,” said Sherman. “Once you were in three years, they could let you out.”

Sherman was discharged but was called back up when the war with Vietnam “flared up.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing the wall,” said Sherman. “I have some friends on there.”

Terry said the other two Sidney veterans had graduated a year before him at Sidney High School.

“I flew over Vietnam on my way to Thailand,” said the Army veteran. “I was a mechanic in the camp which was an ammunition dump. They’d bring the bombs in by ship and then they’d be trucked out and deliver them to Vietnam,”

Terry said it’s been 47 years since he was in the Army and felt it was time to go see the memorials.

“I’ve seen the Traveling Wall two or three times,” said Terry. “I was in Virginia in the service and have been in and out of D.C. dozens of times but I’ve never checked out the memorials.”

Terry is accompanied by his daughter, Leah Shreves, of Sidney.

“He had asked me to go,” said Shreves “We found out a week before we were going. Someone couldn’t go so they called us and we had to make a decision right then on whether we were coming.”

Shreves, who is a nurse, had to find someone to work for her in order to come on the trip. She works two jobs.

“It was meant to be,” said Shreves of the trip.

During a send-off ceremony Friday morning, Mike Bennett, co-chairman of the Shelby County Vets to D.C. committee, thanked all those who have made this, the 11th trip to the nation’s capital, and the 10 previous trips possible.

“To the citizens of Sidney and Shelby County, we couldn’t do anything like this without you,” said Bennett. “You always step up to help the veterans.”

“No other county supports the veterans like Shelby County does,” he said.

He also thanked the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency for the use of the building for the send-off and the Shelby County Fairgrounds for the use of a barn to store the vehicles for the weekend,

The Sidney Rotary, he said, has been at each send-off with coffee and doughnuts. The Spot Restaurant has provided the Friday lunch (including the famous Spot pies) on each of the trips.

The Sidney Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and Ohio State Highway Patrol provided the escort through portions of Sidney before the buses arrived at Interstate 75.

Sidney City Schools’ FCCLA students made the wreaths that will be placed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Vietnam Wall. Anna FFA students arrived at the fairgrounds at 5 a.m. Friday to help set up the flags along Fair Road.

“The teachers and the students in the county held letter-writing campaigns,” said Bennett. “It’s good to have all the young people out here supporting our veterans.”

Proclamations were read by Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst and Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann.

Barhorst said more than 44 million men and women have answered the call to serve the United States in times of war and peace.

“Their stories are the combination of courage, valor and self-sacrifice of people of different backgrounds, colors and creeds joining together to protect our way of life,” he said. “Their stories unite Americans from every corner of our nation who left the warmth of home and family to serve the country they loved.

“Many Americans served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, putting on the uniform of the soldier, the sailor, the airman, the Marine, the Coast Guardsman and the Merchant Mariner. They were the sons and daughters of a peaceful nation, who gave the best years of their lives to serving their country.”

He declared Sept. 18-20 as Honored Veterans to Washington, D.C. Weekend in Sidney and Shelby County.

Ehemann, on behalf of fellow commissioners Tony Bornhorst and Bob Guillozet, declared Sept. 18 as Shelby County Veterans Appreciation Day.

The commissioners, she said, “encourage all citizens to value their (veterans) contributions, as we wish our World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans a safe and rewarding trip as they embark on a visit to the nation’s capital to reflect on the tributes and memorials our great nation has put forth in their honor.”

“This is a great trip,” said Ehemann, who has been a volunteer on several trips. “I hope you have an awesome time.”

The Rev. Phil Chilcote, who has participated in 10 of the 11 send-offs, thanked Bennett for all he has done to make the trips to D.C. possible for the veterans.

“He thanked everyone for what they have done, but not himself,” said Chilcote. “But that’s typical of Mike Bennett.”

Chilcote paid tribute to “the living memorials sitting in front of me” and thanked veterans who served in the various branches of military for serving their country.

He read the poem “For Every Hill I’ve Had to Climb” by L.E. Thayer and related the poem to how those who served during the Vietnam War were treated when they came home from war.

“I’m particularly close to the Vietnam War veterans,” said Chilcote. “They put on their uniform reluctantly. Then after coming home after serving in a horrible war” their treatment was unfair.

“I’m so glad the attitudes are changing in the United States,” said Chilcote. “You are now being welcomed home with open arms.”

Chilcote prayed that he hopes the trip will allow the Vietnam veterans to “find healing and real joy and learn how proud this country is of you.”

Bennett prefaced his comments by telling the veterans that the weather in D.C. has been guaranteed by the politicians to be 87 degrees with a slight breeze.

With a final comment by Bennett, “You’ve been given the opportunity and if you haven’t backed out by now, you’re on the trip.” And with those words, the buses were loaded and participants departed for a trip to remember.

Twenty members of the Anna FFA said they enjoyed setting up the flags that lined Fair Road and Fourth Avenue.

“This was our first time in seeing them off,” said Melyssa Homan, who talked for the group. “We had a lot of fun doing it.”

After the buses left the area, the FFA members were busy again — this time taking the flags down before heading off to school for the day,

Saturday’s itinerary includes a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, visits to the Marine Corps Memorial, Vietnam Wall, Korean War Memorial, World War II Memorial and several other memorials.

Dell Yoho, a Korean and WWII veteran; George Monnier, WWII veteran; Ralph Granger, Korean War veteran; and Dick Hougen, Vietnam War veteran, will be placing the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

One of two buses carries local veterans to Washington, D.C., as Sidney Middle School students line Fair Road to bid farewell Friday morning. The buses were escorted out of the area by two lines of bikers. The veterans will be touring U.S. war memorials on their trip over the weekend.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2015/09/web1_SDN091815VetDC71.jpgOne of two buses carries local veterans to Washington, D.C., as Sidney Middle School students line Fair Road to bid farewell Friday morning. The buses were escorted out of the area by two lines of bikers. The veterans will be touring U.S. war memorials on their trip over the weekend.

By Melanie Speicher

mspeicher@aimmedianetwork.com

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.