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Sacrifice not forgotten

Sacrifice not forgotten

Ceremony marks 50th anniversary of county's first Vietnam death

August 22nd, 2016 by Gerry Tritz in Local News

Dave Schulte plays "Taps" with the other members of the Color Guard for the Samuel F. Gearhart Detachment of the Marine Corps League at the end of a Sunday ceremony. It commemmorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Lance Cpl. Dale Clark, the first Cole County resident to die in the Vietnam War.

Photo by Gerry Tritz /Fulton Sun.

Around 150 people on Sunday honored the life and sacrifice of Lance Cpl. Dale Clark and 16 other area residents killed in the Vietnam War.

Clark, a "skinny, freckle-faced kid with an infectious smile," was killed 50 years ago at the age of 19 on Aug. 19, 1966. He was the first of 17 Cole County residents to lose their lives in the war.

Clark graduated from high school in 1964 and joined the Marines a year later.

Jeremy Amick, of Silver Star Families, said during the event Clark reportedly didn't enjoy his service in the area of Da Nang in Vietnam — he complained in letters to his family about the heat and filth, among other things. But still, he served his country, patrolling and performing other duties.

He was buried in National Cemetery, and his grave marker was a backdrop for Sunday's ceremony.

Mayor Carrie Tergin read a proclamation and presented it to Clark's brother, Dan.

Clark said his brother would have preferred all Vietnam veterans be honored, and that he not be singled out above others.

"Fifty years later, it is exceptionally nice of the people of Jefferson City to honor my brother," he said in an interview after the ceremony. He said it was the first ceremony he is aware of that specifically honored Clark.

"I have a lot of friends that went to Vietnam. I have a lot of friends that lost friends when they were in Vietnam," Dan Clark said. "I know what it did to them, I know what it did to their families. And to remember the people of that era, what they gave and what they sacrificed, I think it's hugely important. I honestly do not believe this is about my brother. I think it's about everybody that served in Vietnam."

He said his brother was "looking for answers" in life and decided to join the Marines.

His brother was tall and lanky in stature and outgoing and had lots of friends to hang out with "when he wasn't beating me up," he said with a chuckle.

Dan Clark was 13 when his 19-year-old brother died, and he "still remembers it like it was yesterday" when he was playing in his front yard and an honor guard and chaplain drove up to his house to deliver the news.

Fifth Ward Councilman Mark Schreiber described Clark as a skinny, freckle-faced kid with an infectious smile and a flat-top hair cut. He said Clark, like others in the high school class of 1964, was "full of dreams and full of hope.

"His dreams unfulfilled, he gave his life so that our dreams might be fulfilled," Schreiber said.

He said it's the duty of our generation and future generations to relay the stories of the heroes who protected our nation.

The 16 other Cole County residents who were honored for making the ultimate sacrifice during the war were John A. Campbell, John R. Bamvakais, Clarence J. Hemmel, Eugene P. McKinney, Larry D. Smith, Jeffrey L. Hicks, Michael R. Forck, Ronald W. Thompkins, Robert D. Davenport, Robert J. Harris, Charles W. Chandler, Joseph V. Schmidt, Patrick B. Kempker, Victor P. Cassmeyer, Russell E. Voris and Charles M. George.

The event was sponsored by the Marine Corps League and the Silver Star Families of America.