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Vietnam veterans, airborne soldiers honored

Posted: March 31, 2016 4:15 p.m.
Updated: April 1, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Jim Tatum/C-I

Camden Mayor Tony Scully gives a brief overview of the symbolism of the flag commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War during a ceremony held Tuesday morning at Camden City Hall. The center red, white and blue inner ring represents the colors of the U.S. flag. The outer black ring represents prisoners of war and those missing in action. The center circle is a map of Vietnam surrounded by the areas of operation where U.S. Armed Forces served.

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November 11 may be officially known as Veterans Day, but Tuesday veterans of the Vietnam War as well as veterans of the 505th Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne were honored for their sacrifice and service.

The City of Camden, Hobkirk Hill Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, and members of area veterans organizations including American Legion Post 17 and Marine Corps League Detachment 1146 gathered at City Hall Tuesday morning for a special ceremony: the presentation and flying of a flag commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

The ceremony was organized by the Hobkirk Hill Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. The Hobkirk Hill DAR chapter was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense as a partner in the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration. The chapter received a certificate issued by the DOD and signed by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and J.L. Danford, Jr. , Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chapter also received the commemorative flag that was to be raised over City Hall Tuesday morning.

Mayor Tony Scully addressed the group that gathered, explaining the symbolism embodied on the commemorative flag and thanking the Vietnam veterans for their service.

"Let us remember the words of President Barak Obama,’ In recognition of a chapter in our nation’s history that must never be forgotten, let us renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our country’s call in Vietnam, and those who awaited their safe return," Scully said. "While no words will ever be fully worthy of their service, nor any honor truly befitting their sacrifice. Let us remember that it is never too late to pay tribute…let us strive to live up to their example by showing our Vietnam Veterans, their families, and all who have served, the fullest respect and support of a grateful nation."

On Tuesday afternoon, another group gathered in front of the memorial dedicated to the 505th Parachute Regiment of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, located on the grounds of INVISTA on U.S. 1 to pay tribute to the soldiers who on March 29, 1943, made the first mass parachute jump in U.S. Army history. The brief ceremony included brief remarks from Kershaw County Council Chairman and retired U.S. Army Maj. General Julian Burns, as well as sound bites from the WW II movie "Battleground."

"Those excerpts from the movie give an idea of what it was like to be in the Army in the 1940s," Maj. Ted Podewil, who served as coordinator and master of ceremonies for event.

The jump made over those fields in Lugoff, not too far from where the InVista plant is now, would lay the groundwork for mass parachute drops into France, Italy, and North Africa during World War II, actions that would greatly contribute to the allied victory over Nazi Germany and the Axis powers, Podewil said.

That jump was not without its perils, In fact, three troopers were killed and several more injured during that jump when one of the C-47 planes from which the soldiers had jumped stalled and fell through a group of troopers still in the air.

The ceremony concluded with a wreath laying ceremony led by Burns, American Legion Post 17 Commander David Fuller and Marine Corps League Detachment 1146 Commander Michael Shaw.

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