Veterans Honored at Vietnam War Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration

U.S. Soldiers in Vietnam.
U.S. Soldiers in Vietnam.

Navy, Marine and Air Force veterans were individually recognized March 11 at the Palm Springs Air Museum’s 50-year Vietnam War commemoration.

Guest speaker, Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon, said Vietnam vets returned home to scorn rather than appreciation for their service.

Cahuilla Chapter, the local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), worked jointly with the Department of Defence’s program celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War to produce an exceptional event honoring over 100 Vietnam vets.

Regent Mary Ann Monica began the program, and Chaplain Mary Louise Selle provided the invocation. The colors were displayed by the Desert Hot Springs JROTC (Senior Marine Instructor, Lt. Col. Carl Lewke) and the national anthem was led by Cynthia Cuddeback.

Event co-chair and past regent Peg Ellington presented Palm Springs Mayor Moon, a former commander (retired) in the U.S. Navy, who said his father was of the greatest generation, honored by the Pacific Hangar, but the state-of-the-art hangar (General Kenneth Miles) under construction will acknowledge those of his generation.

Being at Annapolis was the best experience of his life, but the political atmosphere then gave rise to abuse and ridicule for those who served, he said.

Speaker Jose Ramos, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired), a 1985 graduate of West Point, pointed out his wife was a DAR member.  He also referenced the memorial wall in Washington, D. C., saying the average age of those who died in that war was 23, and there are seven million Vietnam vets alive whose collective service has safeguarded American citizens.

Each vet was individually honored by being “pinned” by a Cahuilla Daughter, as co-chairs Noma Burton and Joleen Sharp called their names and rank.  Each vet also got a certificate and signed declaration signed by former President Obama.

Marine veteran Jerry Jones received a standing ovation when he elected not to be recognized himself, but to accept for his brother Clifford Alan Jones, who died in Vietnam in 1967, The Desert Sun reported.

Some served in two branches of the service, Lt. Commander Roy M. Pitkin (Navy and Coast Guard); E-3 Elbert Summers (Navy and Coast Guard); CWO3 Donald L. Urista (army and national guard); and, Lt Col. Dean Hunter (Air Force and Marines.) Two women were honored: Air Force Capt. Jane Kobel and 1st Lt. Ann Rholl, who also accepted for her husband, Darryl Rholl.

The Cahuilla Commemoration Committee included co-chairs Joleen Sharp and Peg Ellington, Regent Mary Ann Monica, Mary Wilson, Alice Barnhart and Jane Line.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE