Veterans honored at May 30 Exchange Club’s Field of Honor Display
Idaho Falls, ID – The Department of Defense recently selected Idaho Falls as a partner city with 7,000 other communities in the United States to help honor the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. As a partner, the city will host a series of six events over the next three years.
One commemorative event has already been held, and the second event will take place during the Exchange Club’s Field of Honor Display on May 30 at Freeman Park. During that event, city officials will also be incorporating a Purple Heart City Proclamation that designates Idaho Falls as a Purple Heart City.
Idaho Falls City Councilman Ed Marohn states, “As a Vietnam veteran, I recognize this is as a unique honor to have the Department of Defense select Idaho Falls to help commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War and honor all veterans who served their country. No matter the discontent the war caused, Idahoans in the military served their country loyally – some making the supreme sacrifice.”
The May 30 event starts at 10 a.m. with the reading of the names of soldiers who died in combat, followed by opening remarks and the posting of colors at noon. Idaho Falls City Councilman David Smith, Senator Mike Crapo and a message from Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter will be shared. Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper will read two proclamations designated Idaho Falls as a Purple Heart City and commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Idaho Falls City Councilmembers, Ed Marohn & Barbara Ehardt will also speak.
Presentations will be followed by a reading of the names of Idaho servicemen found on the State Vietnam War Memorial conducted by Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 972. A flyover will be provided by the Legacy Flight Museum, followed by a 21-gun salute by the American Legion and a performance by Stasia Acrobats. A complete schedule of events can be found on the Idaho Falls Exchange Club’s website.
“With Memorial Day approaching, we encourage everyone to take some time to honor the brave men and women in the military who have fallen before us, as well as those presently serving to protect us. Be it a moment of silence, decorating a gravestone, visiting a cemetery, attending the Field of Honor Memorial Flag Display hosted by the Exchange Club, or spending time with family and friends, this is a time to focus our appreciation,” states Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper.
Idaho Falls has a direct historical connection to the Vietnam War. The Idaho National Guard’s 116th Combat Engineer Battalion unit of Idaho Falls was one of only eight National Guard units nationally deployed to Vietnam in an era in which draftees and volunteers heavily filled the ranks in Vietnam.
The Department of the Army’s evaluation report dated September 18, 1969 states, ”The 116th Engineer Battalion (Combat) of the Idaho National Guard is the largest single National Guard unit to have seen duty in the Republic of Vietnam. The unit, with a majority of its personnel from the Idaho Falls area and the surrounding farm country, is further distinguished by having all of its personnel remain assigned to the unit for the entire tour with little infusion of other Army personnel.”
The battalion of 761 personnel deployed to Vietnam in August and September 1968. It finished its tour in September 1969. Individuals were awarded one Legion of Merit, 52 Bronze Stars, 228 Army Commendation Medals, and 31 Purple Hearts. By the end of its tour the unit was down to 635 personnel, partly from the attrition of 7 killed and 71 wounded.
The number of Americans who served in the Vietnam War equaled 2.59 million. American soldiers were in combat for an average of 240 days. The total American death toll was 58,169 with 304,000 wounded. Over 30 percent of those killed were draftees and 61 percent killed were 21 years old or younger.
Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry McCullough.
About Idaho Falls: Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous national park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, science & technology, shopping and entertainment, Idaho Falls is an attractive location for small and large businesses alike. Idaho Falls consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications. Learn more on our website.