Wednesday, April 26, 2017

TOP STORY >> Museum honors veterans of Vietnam War Saturday

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Museum of Military History will hold its sixth annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. The event is held indoors.

The museum will show the movie “Good Morning Vietnam” at noon. Seating is limited and must be reserved in advance.

An honor-and-remembrance ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. with a meal following. Tickets for meal must be purchased in advance.

There will be a large map of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for veterans and Gold Star Families to sign to indicate their place of service. The map is part of the museum’s permanent display. There will also be live music and veterans and active duty service organizations with information booths.

“We are still doing it and will continue to hold the event. The Vietnam guys did not get a welcome they deserve. I personally remember on TV watching the protestors go to the planes. It is a scar on my heart how those guys were treated,” museum director DannaKay Duggar said.

She said the event is a way for the nation to learn from its mistake and ensure it does not do it again.

The museum is at 100 Veterans Circle. For more information, call 501-241-1943 or visit

Last week, Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) awarded Silver Stars to Vietnam War veterans Bob Monette of Madison, Ala., John DesLauriers of Galveston, Texas, Bruce Shearer of Glendale, Ariz., and Robert Frank of Leavenworth, Kan.

They made a visit to the military museum and talked about their war story.

On April, 18, 1972, the four flew their Army UH-1H “Huey” helicopter near An Loc in southern Vietnam. A C-130 attempting to make an air drop of supplies over An Loc was hit by enemy small- arms fire from the ground. A basketball-size hole was in the wing. The helicopter crew saw the C-130 flying with a wing on fire go down in a marsh. The plane broke in two sections from the crash.

The helicopter crew and a second helicopter went to rescue the C-130 crew.

They were able to rescue the seven-member C-130 crew, who were injured but survived. The Huey and C-130 crews reunited in 2005.

The Huey’s unit commander, Jack Shields of Maumelle, worked on their behalf since 2005 to have them awarded Silver Stars.

On hand for the ceremony in Little Rock were C-130 crew members Robert Kirkpatrick, Ralph Bemis and Charlie Armstead. They all made a stop at the military museum to talk about the awards.

“It was great. Today was the cream of the crop. They’ve been working on those for 12 years,” Ralph Bemis said.