In 1967, Enid resident PVC. Lester James Veazey enlisted in the US Marines shortly after his 19th birthday. He was shot in the head on January 20, 1968, by small arms fire near Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. James survived the wound, but was confined to a wheelchair. He returned home to Enid, Oklahoma, but never fully recovered. He died from his wounds 9 years later in 1977.
Two years ago, in a ceremony at the Woodring Wall of Honor & Veterans Park, his name was added to The Vietnam Memorial Wall, and he officially joined more than 58,000 other American heroes inscribed on the nation’s most beloved memorial. Since the original Wall in DC was dedicated, 354 additional names have been engraved. Enid, Oklahoma will update Oklahoma’s “Official Vietnam War Monument” on Monday, May 30th at 10:00 am in conjunction with the annual City of Enid Memorial Day Ceremonies at the Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park. Additional names will be added to the wall in a ceremony led by Col Clark J. Quinn, Wing Commander at Vance Air Force Base.
ADDING NAMES TO THE WALL
Each year, names that have met the Department of Defense criteria for addition to The Wall, having sustained wounds in Vietnam from which they eventually perished, are unveiled on the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC each Mother’s Day. Adding a hero’s name is not only important to the individual families, it is of great interest to communities and local media around the country. Television news stories and newspapers across America tell hometown stories of service and sacrifice. National media also takes notice when the Memorial is updated. The stories of those honored, as well as the actual processes of identifying and engraving the names, are of great national human interest. We mirror those services in Enid at the Vietnam Memorial Wall each year.
THE MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONY
Chad Caldwell, our new District 40 Representative will emcee the ceremony and Jim Martin, President of the Wounded Veterans of Oklahoma, will be the keynote speaker for the upcoming event, Monday, May 30th. Sam Justice, Chaplain of the local Disabled American Veteran’s organization will bring the invocation. The national anthem will be sung by Chisholm High School student, Bree Kisling. The colors will be presented by the Kiowa Black Leggins Society of Kiowa County, Oklahoma. Col. Quinn, Vance AFB Wing Commander, will dedicate the living walls in honor of more than 100 new additions along with the recent fallen of Oklahoma and Patrick Anderson will lead the ceremony to place the 2016 military members added to the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Col Quinn will also dedicate the new Col. Leon Vance Memorial which will be revealed on Memorial Day. Local entertainer Tania Warnock will be bringing special music to include a patriotic memorial to her grandfather. Jon Enns will be present to help with presentations to our fallen hero families which include three with Enid ties. Haden Bean, Joshua Toone and Cristina Mendez.
The Woodring Wall of Honor is celebrating 16 years of service honoring, remembering, teaching and providing healing for our veterans and their families. “The park has become has been nicknamed, Oklahoma’s Arlington by some Gold Star Families for its efforts in remembering the fallen of Oklahoma and providing a place for families to come,” stated Elaine Johns, Executive Director. “Many of our families loved ones are buried in Washington DC’s most famous cemetery to include Enid’s own, Chris Hake. This park gives the Hake’s a local place to come to. They share special events near the living wall bearing his name. A touch of a hand on his name remembers his life. A place to bring his son, on special occasions, to teach him about honor, commitment, love of country and bravery.” If one name on the wall has that much impact to a family, what impact does this park have to more than 60,000 military members and their families whose names are etched on both the living and memorial walls? And what impact is that on those that returned? That’s why we continue to build this park and make it a glorious tribute to our past and present service members.”
This year, we will be honoring an additional six military members who died while serving stateside or overseas service. Included will be two Enid residents, Joshua Tate Toone and Haden James Bean. Also honored will be Joshua Wheeler of Rolland, OK, Tomas Luke Avery, Harrah, OK and Ray Anthony “Little Calf” Yost of Anadarko KIA 2005. Also to be honored is VAFB airmen, Cristina Mendez for her military service. Ms. Mendez died recently in a traffic accident and was stationed at Vance AFB.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, the Woodring Wall of Honor Board is encouraging each Vietnam veterans to attend this year’s ceremony to represent those comrades, friends, and neighbors, from this era of war. A special commemorative pin will be given to the first 400 veterans who attend. The ceremony is organized each year by the VVA Chapter 940, the Blue Star Mothers Chapter 11 and the Woodring Wall of Honor. Special appreciation is extended to those businesses who give donations and in kind services to allow the event to be held.
On May 28th, a 5K/Half Marathon Run will be held at the park to help defray expenses to establish an Educational Center at the park. All proceeds will benefit the center and park upkeep. Danny Cayhill, the Biggest Loser’s biggest loser ever will be on hand to share his testimony on how he lost more than 239 pounds on the show. You can pre-register for the race at www.getmeregistered.com
Documents, newspaper articles, mementos and testimonies are being assembled for final placement in a time capsule. If you have items you wish to place in the capsule, contact Pat Healy at the Countertop Shop at (580) 234-7131.
If you wish to place a name on the living walls, you can turn in those names for engraving, 2017.. . Information needed is the name and branch of service. Send names to Woodring Wall of Honor, PO Box 248, Enid, OK 73702