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A celebration of service

Residents attend Memorial Day ceremony in Newhall

Posted: May 29, 2012 4:55 a.m.
Updated: May 29, 2012 4:55 a.m.

Attendees of the Memorial Day Tribute wave to passing aircraft in Newhall on Monday.

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It was a steep walk up a hill for more than 1,000 Santa Clarita Valley residents who attended a Memorial Day ceremony at Eternal Valley Memorial and Mortuary in Newhall on Monday, but none of the attendees seemed to mind the trip as they honored those who died protecting their country and families.

Although the crowd was wowed by World War II AT-6 airplanes - flown by the Condor Squadron - which flew over the mortuary twice, many also seemed to be just as excited as they watched two Vietnam veterans receive citations for Bronze Stars - 45 years after the men were first recommended for the prestigious military award.

United States Army Sgt. Bill Reynolds, of Valencia, and U.S. Army Spc. Stan Cockerell, of Newhall, each received citations Monday for a Bronze Star for meritorious service for their performance in the Mekong Delta as they confronted the Viet Cong in 1967. Their platoon leader, retired U.S. Army Maj. Jack Benedick, recommended the two for Bronze Stars, but the two never received the awards.

Benedick made a final push for the medals in recent years, with support from Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita. McKeon's staff notified the men in April that they were to receive the award.

"We Vietnam veterans, we're a proud bunch," Reynolds said Monday. "We fought for freedom just as our fathers had done."

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. R.J. Kelly, who also fought in Vietnam, said teamwork was important to keeping the country standing and said people should support veterans recently returned from war.

"We also have many soldiers returning from combat zones who will need your help to get back to civilian life," Kelly said.

Many of those who attended Monday's ceremony were veterans or had loved ones who served in the Armed Forces.

"Obviously, we come here in honor of the people who came before us," said Saugus resident Sheila Chovam, whose husband, stepson and father all served in the military. "I particularly like that we see the younger people here, too."

Bruce Fields, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Granada Hills, said he was at the ceremony with his sister so they could support the fallen.

"We just want to pay our respects," Fields said. "All gave some, but some gave all."




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