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News :: Memorial Day: Retired Marine reminds audience of Vietnam war history
· 10:23pm May 26th, 2014
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.
Memorial Day weekend, with fireworks
Vinton pool now open! Ladder, lift available for handicapped patrons