UNION — One was a father who died in a POW camp during the Korean War, one was a cousin killed by a sniper in Vietnam, and two were residents of a small town in Union County who were also killed in Vietnam. They and the ultimate sacrifice each made in the service of their country were recalled at this year’s Memorial Day Program.
American Legion Post 22 held its annual Memorial Day Program on Monday, May 28 at Veterans Memorial Park Lodge at Foster Park. In front of the lodge is the memorial to the men from Union County killed in the service of their county during the Vietnam War. The memorial consists of markers bearing the likenesses, names, branches of service, and dates and places of death of each of those men.
There is also, however, another marker at the monument, this one bearing the words “All Gave Some Some Gave All.” It is a reminder of the great truth of military service that those who put on the uniform of their nation are giving of themselves. It is also a reminder that some of those who do so will, in the defense of this great nation, pay the ultimate price and give all that they can give for America and the freedoms for which it stands.
Some of those who gave their all in service to their country were remembered by family members during the American Legion Post 22 Memorial Day Program at Veterans Memorial Park Lodge on Monday, May 28.
Among those attending the program was Phillip Hagan, a representative of Woodmen Life Chapter #323 who, together with chapter past president and World War II veteran Stonie Keith presented Post 22 1st Vice Commander Charles E. Lott, Sr., with a South Carolina flag. The state flag presented at the ceremony will be flown with the MIA flag pole on the grounds of Foster Park.
Shortly after the flag presentation, Lott opened the floor to any of those present who wanted to speak about loved ones who fell in service to the nation. Hagan was one of those who did, speaking about his cousin, L/Cpl Curt Painter of North Charleston who, at the age of 19, was killed by a sniper in Vietnam in 1968. He said his cousin was the son of James Painter, a welder in the navy yard at Charleston, and his mother was Mary Lee Painter, who he said was his father’s sister. A little boy at the time, Hagan said his cousin’s death made a very powerful impression on him.
Myra Heatherly spoke about her father, Aubrey Dean Vaughn, who was a 19-year-old private in the US Army when he was captured by the North Koreans in 1951 during the Korean War. Heatherly, who was 11 months old when her father went to Korea, said her father died in a POW camp and, while his remains along with those of other American POWs were returned after the war, they could not be identified at the time and were interred in Hawaii. Vaughn’s body remained there until 2015 when it was exhumed and finally identified, enabling his family to bring him home to Union in 2016 to his final resting place beside his parents and brothers.
Ann Brown spoke, reminding those present of Carlisle residents Belton Lyles Jr. and Leroy Johnson who were killed in Vietnam and whose names are on markers in the memorial to the men of Union County who lost their lives in that war.
In his address during the Memorial Day program, Hagan reminded those present that “freedom is not free” and quoted General George S. Patton about how best to remember those who gave their lives in service to and defense of America.
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.