The Maxwell Area Community Center was full of people Saturday afternoon, as more than 80 Vietnam veterans, both living and deceased, were honored for their service, along with five veterans who were killed in action in Vietnam.


Jackie Peters, who belongs to the DeShon Chapter of DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) in the Boone area, was the key organizer of the event, which brought her back to her hometown of Maxwell to honor many of the heroes she grew up with. Also helping to put on the special ceremony Saturday were the Maxwell American Legion Post #249 and the Legion Auxiliary, the Maxwell VFW Post #8174 and the VFW Auxiliary and the Collins American Legion.


It was 52 years ago, 1965, that the United States sent its first troops to Vietnam. ‘Operation Rolling Thunder’ started and the first U.S. combat troops were sent to Vietnam in March; by the end of the year there were 200,000 U.S. troops there. And it was the Maxwell High School Class of 1965 that had the most honorees on Saturday. Of the 23 boys in that class, 18 served in Vietnam — three of those 18 were killed in action and four have died since returning from the war. Two of those four have died tragically in accidents.


Judy Bothwell, a member of the Class of 1965, was busy Saturday accepting the certificates and pins, which were given out to honor each area Vietnam veteran, on behalf of many of her fellow classmates and/or their family members who couldn’t make it Saturday. Bothwell said she helped organizers track down contact information for the members of the class and would be making sure the certificates ended up in the hands of the right people.


Bothwell was proud to represent a number of classmates on Saturday, saying, “Our class ended up being best friends…the closest class possible.”


A total of 85 Vietnam veterans, both living and deceased, were honored Saturday, including Patrick Palmersheim, retired executive director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, who was the featured speaker for the ceremony.


“All Vietnam vets…welcome home,” Palmersheim said. “It’s long overdue to say it, but welcome home.”


Palmersheim went back 55 years ago to Jan. 12, 1962, when he said “Operation Chopper marked the beginning of one of our most challenging wars.” That was the first time U.S. Forces participated in major combat in the Vietnam War.


Palmersheim said it is important to honor the three million Americans who served in Vietnam, a challenging war. It was challenging he said in many ways. First, soldiers went as individuals, not part of already formed military groups. Most of those individuals had never travelled outside of America, and they were sent to fight in a country with the some of the most brutal conditions ever experienced in a war. Also challenging was that many Americans questioned the United States involvement in the war and veterans felt dismissed for their service.


“You were not treated as the hero you are … we must never let that happen again,” Palmersheim said.


The most important thing that Vietnam veterans did, Palmersheim noted, is “you looked out for each other… Vietnam is the story of Americans from every corner of our nation … they fought hour after hour and day after day … and persevered.” Those who became prisoners of war, he said, wrote a story of integrity and bravery; and more than 58,000 laid down their lives, never to return home alive.


During the ceremony, Jackie Peters, read information about each of the 85 veterans being honored and each of the five veterans who were killed in action. Many were emotional as they came forward.


Palmersheim said it is because of the hard lessons learned from Vietnam that Americans now honor all veterans more than ever before.


Photos of each veteran and/or family members of veterans who received a certificate and pin Saturday are accessible on the Tri-County Times Facebook page: www.facebook.com/tricountytimesIowa.


Max Anderson (deceased), US Navy


Douglas W. Atwood, US Navy


John D. Beal, US Army


James A. Beavers (deceased), US Navy


Charles L. Beard, US Army


Dennis L. Bell, US Air Force


Garold D. Bell, US Air Force


Wayne L. Bell, US Air Force


James Biegger, US Marine Corps


Jesse L. Camp, US Army


David Carey (deceased), US Air Force


Ben Carver, US Army


David Ken Clark (deceased), US Army


Ricky Jay Clark (deceased), US Army


Dennis L. Coughenour (deceased), US Navy


Tom Cummings, US Marine Corps


Clyde Dalbey (deceased), US Army


Dennis W. Dolph, US Army


Patrick Donahoe, US Navy


Merlin Dunahoo, US Air Force


Donald Laverne Elding (deceased), US Navy


Terry Empey, US Army


Eddie Erickson, Jr., US Army


Fred H. Etnier, US Air Force


John Falvey, US Army


Steve Gast, US Air Force


DeeAnna Graham, US Army


Larry Gregerson, US Air Force


Bill Hamilton, Jr., US Army


Thomas Hand, US Air Force


David Hobbs, US Navy


Denny Holland, US Navy


Harlan Holsinger, US Air Force


Don Huggins, US Marine Corps


David Huntrods, US Army


Jim Huntrods, US Army


George Walter Jones, US Navy and Air Force


Paul Kahler, US Navy


Richard Kahler, US Navy


Dennis Kaufman (deceased), US Army


Byron W. Keagle, US Marine Corps


Bruce Irving Kirk (deceased), US Army


John H. Kloppenborg (deceased), US Navy and Army


Mark Krausman, US Navy


Terry L. Krausman, US Air Force


M. Harold Laughlin, US Air Force


Jerry V. Law, US Army


Theodore E. Law (deceased), US Army


James S. Lehman, US Air Force


Rod Maxwell, US Army


Dave McHone, US Army


James L. McIntire, US Army


David L. Minear, US Army


Max W. Minear, US Air Force


Dennis Mohr, US Air Force


Ted Mullihan, US Navy


Steven (Speed) Myers (deceased), US Army


James R. Newton, US Air Force


George E. Norton (deceased), US Army


Patrick J. Palomersheim, US Air Force


Howard D. Peters, US Air Force


Robert E. Pierce US Army


Gary D. Pointer, US Air Force


Randy L. Pointer, US Army


Roger Pointer, US Army


Ron Ratzlaff, US Air Force


Vance Robertson, US Army


Gregory B. Robinson, US Air Force


Ken Sandquist, US Army


Daylis Smith (deceased), US Navy


Douglas L. Smith, US Air Force


Gary R. Smith (deceased) US Army


Kenneth L. Smith, Jr., US Army


Dan Sparks, US Army


James K. Stigler (deceased), US Navy


Jim Strother (deceased), US Marine Corps


Ken Strother, US Army


Steve Strother, US Air Force


James P. Tyler (deceased), US Army


Dennis Whaley, US Army


Craig L. Whitaker, US Army


David Zeiser, US Navy


Michael E. Zeiser, US Army


Honored Veterans who were Killed In Action


Specialist 4 Dick E. Duff, US Army


Warrant Officer Mark Wendell Minear, US Army


Specialist 4 David L Pearson, US Army


Specialist 4 Jerry Lynn Robinson, US Army


First Lt. Richard Mark Welch, US Air Force