City honors Vietnam War veterans

Randy Jones (left) and Eddie Reives
Staff Writer

In celebration of Veterans Day, Eddie Reives and Randy Jones were named veterans of the year during a ceremony at City Hall Friday.

“Our community supports our military," said West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson. "Oak Hill Academy had a program for our veterans this morning and Northside Christian Church is having one right now. We will be recognizing veterans of the Vietnam War”

Circuit Judge Jim Kitchens was speaker for the occasion.

"The first 18 years of my life were spent moving from Army post to Army post so, men and women in the military have always been my heroes," Kitchens said. “All of you have gone beyond the citizens call to duty. We appreciate you more than you know. My father was in the military and that was my life until I was 18 years old."

Kitchens said he wanted to thank the parents, spouses, children and loved ones of those who serve. He said it was a heroic act for those who are left at home. Doing all the things that have to be done while a spouse is away.

"My mother was like Mother Goose with four little ones in tow, she took us all around the world to meet up with my father." Kitchens said."He would go ahead of us to Germany or wherever he was stationed."

Kitchens said this nation was founded on religious freedom, freedom to own private property, a legal system that protected our individual rights and to have a military composed of citizen soldiers who were ready to defend those rights.

“I understand a lot of you don't want to relive what happened," Kitchens said. "But share it with your family. Our young people need to know freedom isn't free."

Dwight Dyess and Robinson awarded Reives and Jones with certificates and their names will join others on a plaque in City Hall, of others who have been honored with the distinction of being veterans of the year.

"Our committee decided to honor veterans of Vietnam this year," Dyess said."Both of these men risked their lives and both were wounded."

Reives said the ceremony was nice and he enjoyed it.

"I was in the infantry in Vietnam," Reives said. "I saw some very bad things. I wanted to serve my country. I was stationed in Pleiku. I saw a lot of fighting being in the infantry. A lot of my friends didn't make it back home. I'm glad to be here."

Jones said it was a beautiful day to be an American. He said the ceremony was overwhelming and he was at a loss for words.

"Something I am really proud of is being part of Huey 091; Final Journey Home," Jones said. "A bunch of us got together and bought the helicopter and had it restored. The only thing it had that was not stock was a radar and a GPS. We took it around the nation to schools and other places that were interested in seeing the Vietnam-era Huey."

Jones said their mission was to not let interest in the war and in the Huey die. He said the helicopters used to evacuate wounded soldiers in the field cut casualties by more than 90 percent. He said the cost of the helicopter originally was $300,000 and it took close to that much to restore.

"The program lasted somewhere between six and eight months," Jones said. "We donated it to the Smithsonian, for 30 years. We had to completely dismantle it to get in on the elevator. The motor was fully functional so we took it our and replaced it with one that didn't work. It didn't matter with it being on display."

Jones said it was the only aircraft to be allowed to land on the mall in Washington.

He said had he not been a veteran, he never would have had that opportunity.