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Dave Goodell speaks to the audience about Vietnam history during the Memorial Day service in Vinton.

It took more than 40 years after returning from Vietnam for Dave Goodell to receive what he says he and other veterans of that war were hoping for when they returned to the U.S. in the 1960s or 70s.

“All we wanted was for someone to shake our hand and thank us for a job well done,” Goodell told the audience at the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Park on Monday.

Instead, he said, he and many others heard phrases like “baby killer” from Americans who cursed and spit on them.

For Goodell, a former Marine, Vietnam has always been part of his life, his history, his effort in veterans groups such as the Marine Corps League. He survived the war, but lost one of his best friends, Ronald Eugene Johnson, who left for the Marines before finishing high school. Johnson died in a grenade explosion on July 8, 1967.

“Ron and I got in an out of a lot of trouble together,” Goodell recalled during his speech on Monday. “Mostly in.”

For Goodell, the past few weeks have been more about remembering Vietnam than usual. He recently joined many other veterans of that war in a 50-year anniversary ceremony at the Iowa Vietnam Memorial near the State Capitol in Des Moines.

Vietnam, said the former Marine, touched every city in America. Goodell reminded the audience that along with Johnson, two other Vinton natives, Joe Fowler and Wayne Wutzke gave their lives there.

Goodell also told the audience that one of the very last soldiers to die in Vietnam was Iowan Darwin Judge. He was one of two soldiers who died in a rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Siagon on April 29, 1975, as Americans scrambled to evacuate.

After the speech, several veterans and auxiliary members approached Goodell to shake his hand and thank him for his service – words of thanks he never heard as a soldier coming home.

Another speaker at the ceremony, veteran Ron Geiger, reminded the audience of the meaning of the memorial known as the Battle Cross. Soldiers would place the rifle and helmet of a fallen soldier near his remains so his body could be properly buried. That symbol, which is also honored with a black steel sculpture at Veterans Park, now honors many soldiers who die in combat.



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Comments (2)

WE have known many who served in Vietnam, including my brother. Appreciate this article. Always appreciate those who served in the military to preserve our freedoms. Just remember who has your back when it comes time to vote in November. These men sacrificed for us. We owe them our freedom and our thanks. Thank you.
By: Kathy Dronebarger on May 27th 8:09pm
I came to this event, as did many others. I'm proud to be a Great Grand-daughter, Grand-daughter, Daughter, Sister, Mother, Mother-in-Law, some-time wife, Aunt, Friend, A Friend considered "Aunt" to several, and the Grandmother to the children of my children who are serving in one form of the military or another... I am proud of each and every one of them for they serve our country willingly, with honor, with dignity, giving up their own freedoms and perhaps even their own lives that those others such as we may retain our freedoms. Freedom is not free.
Having said this, here is what I don't understand. Please understand I did not witness this happening on Saturday, May 24, 2014 during the ceremony; however, I have personally witnessed it a multitude of times when a resident who lives within the area of the Veteran's Memorial brings their dogs to the monument to take a dump. Yes, though I do not live in Vinton, I personally claim it as my home town and I cannot believe that I am the only person within the vicinity who has noticed this act of atrocity. Not only are the dogs permitted to do their business and disrespect our servicemen and women by doing so, the owners of said dogs do not pick up after them before leaving!
I find the practice of using a Veteranís Memorial as an outhouse for a dog to be gross and disgraceful. I really must take offense to this practice, on behalf of those who are currently serving and for those whoíve previously served our bountiful country. I can't believe the owners of said dogs are not ashamed of continuing to act in such a manner and that they are still able to show their face within their own neighborhood and in front of their own Veterans!
Please keep your dogs at home to do their business and pick it up in your own yard. If you donít want to do this, then carry a Walmart bag with you and scoop up your dogís poop in that when youíre walking along. Put it in the next garbage can you come to, I think your neighbors would rather you do that than leave poop in their yard. By the way, just in case you hadnít noticed there is also a garbage can just setting just beside the brick walk-way awaiting that tied up Walmart bag of dog poop, at the Veteranís Memorial Park. Another thing you might try, walk your dog on the river-side of the road, away from the Veteranís Memorial Park, that way you can use a stick and shove the poop down the river bank so your Cross Country High School student track team, your walking/jogging enthusiasts, and swimming pool goers donít step in the poop, and you donít have to pick it up or carry an embarrassing Walmart bag of full of poop, easy enough to fix, everyone is happy. Lastly, Vinton could put it a centrally located dog park and charge dog owners only a nominal monthly fee for its use, and allow them to use it at their own risk. Many small and big towns have the now days.
By: Wendelyn Geiger on May 28th 2:51pm

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