“They need it”: Conway Vietnam War veteran event highlights importance of honoring vets

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Veterans from all military branches were honored in a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War in an event Tuesday morning at Horry Georgetown Technical College in Conway.

One Marine veteran says it’s important to continue to recognize veterans, because they are the kind of people who saved his life.

Well-known Vietnam vet “Clebe” McClary is retired, but he makes a living showing the importance of honoring those who have served.

“These guys have suffered a lot and gotten very little recognition,” said First Lieutenant Patrick C. “Clebe” McClary III, who served in the United States Marine Corps. “We spoke in North Carolina at about 700, and that was the first time they had ever been thanked.”

It’s important to him that they be recognized, because if it hadn’t have been for a veteran, he wouldn’t be alive today.

“Those are the kind of people that’s saved my life,” he said.

Fellow Vietnam veteran Ralph Johnson died throwing his body on a grenade that exploded, saving McClary’s life.

Navy officials wanted to name a warship after Johnson in California, but with the help of Congressman Tom Rice, a Charleston warship was named after Johnson instead, in the city he was born.

U.S. Congressman Tom Rice greets a veteran at the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War at HGTC in Conway Tuesday morning.

“His family couldn’t afford to go to California, and that’s one of the main reasons,” said McClary. “He’s from Charleston, I thought he should’ve been in Charleston, and I’m glad it was.”

McClary’s wife, Deanna “Dea” McClary, agrees, that more veterans should be honored, all the time, in every state.

“For it’s men and women like each of you, fighting side by side, that make this world a better place to live,” she said.

“We have 10,000 veterans in our district,” said U.S. Congressman Tom Rice. “I want you to help me spread the word, because I want to do more of these, and I want to help bring you guys together, so that you can have these shared experiences.”

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