Remembering the fallen: 12 former service members to honor this Memorial Day
Leo Shane III
May 26, 2019
Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) march off after supporting military funeral honors in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on May 8, 2019. ((Elizabeth Fraser/Army)
In honor of Memorial Day, Military Times asked several lawmakers and administration officials to talk about who they will be remembering on the holiday. Here are their reflections:
** Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, a Navy Reserve and Air Force Reserve veteran
“On Memorial Day we often forget Americans who gave the last full measure offering a helping hand to those whose own world had disappeared.
“On panel 1W Line 121 of the Vietnam Wall is the name of just such a man: Master Sgt. Denning Cicero Johnson. He was 36, a husband, father, medic. He was one of the last Americans to fall in Vietnam, on April 4, 1975.
“He was rescuing orphans whose lives were in danger as the North Vietnamese approached Saigon. Operation Baby Lift rescued 2,000 children on the orders of President Gerald Ford. While Johnson was tending to the children in his care, the C-5 he was on crashed into a rice paddy outside of Saigon.
** Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., an Army veteran and ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee
“There are many incredible men and women that come to mind when I think of our fallen servicemembers, but this Memorial Day I want to especially recognize the life and service of 1st Sgt Thomas E. Thayer from Louisville, Ky.
“Sgt Thayer was a tremendous man that I knew growing up in the Boy Scouts. He was my scoutmaster and taught me so much about leadership and responsibility. Sgt. Thayer died while serving with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He received a Silver Star in 1965. I will never forget his courage and bravery. Rest in peace, scoutmaster.”
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