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Mason County Memories

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History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News

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History Column Viet Nam War Dave Petersen This Memorial Day I was thinking about those who served in the Viet Nam War that were from the Ludington area and those who lost their lives there. This was the first war that we watched from the security of our homes as journalists and news crews brought us the live action images and details of battles as they unfolded. I was about 10 years old when I became more aware of the war in 1966 and my attention was more focused when my cousin Rick Deeds went to Viet Nam in 1967. As a youngster it didn't make a lot of sense to me, and the animosity towards the soldiers that served made even less. I understood not wanting the war, but even then I thought how could they (the protesters) say what they did about my cousin and his friend Sam Mears with whom he enlisted with. I spoke with Dale Shimel about his experiences in Viet Nam, and their return. "The guys that served thought we were doing the right thing, when we came back we didn't get a very good welcome. That's something that has changed as people came to realize that Viet Nam wasn't the soldiers fault. What I see happening since about 1980 is that people are more aware, more supportive and more appreciative of the soldier." Mason County lost several of its sons during the war, Roger Allen Dains, Richard Ross Lange, James Raymond Nelson, Leroy "Junior Draby from Freesoil and my cousin Ricky Duane Deeds. The list may be short, but the pain of loss runs deep in the families of every life that is cut short of the potential and promise of what could have been. Memorial Day is more then a three day weekend, it's a time of friends, family, and remembering those who have served and those who have given all. Fire up those grills, relish the time with family, and take a moment to give thanks and remember those who have made it possible. If you have photographs to share with our readers please contact me at 757-3240, e-mail to davep@blackcreekpress.com, or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News, P.O. Box 340, Ludington, MI, 49431 Pic1 Rick Deeds (left) in October 1967, taken in Country, South Viet Nam. Rick was KIA on January 20th 1968 in a place called Quang Tri in South Viet Nam just a few days before the Tet Offensive which began on the 31st of January 1968. Pic2 James Nelson seen with his helicopter was declared MIA in 1967. He was lost when his helicopter ran out of fuel during a storm and went down 18 miles out in the China Sea. Pic3 This map shows the area around the DMZ, you can see Quang Tri in the upper left hand side of the image. It is estimated that 30% of the ordinance dropped here was unexploded. While the main trails are relatively safe to travel on, going off the beaten path can still mean that you may lose you life with one wrong mis-step. Pic4 Richard Lange, graduated from LHS in 1970 and enlisted in the Army March 23rd 1971, he was killed in action November 19th 1971. Pic5 This picture was taken in Tay Nin Province South Viet Nam, this M48 Patton tank was near Xuan Lou. It had mechanical problems and was blown up rather than being left behind. Dale Shimel is on the left and a ARVN (Army of the Republic of South Viet Nam) soldier is at right. Pic6 Dale Shimel (left) went into the service as a mechanic and was assigned to work on the ACAV Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle. He manned one of the three machine guns on this ACAV and was there to work on them in the event they needed repairs.

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