MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The Myrtle Beach community came together at the convention center Wednesday to honor our veterans in a socially-distanced ceremony at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
“We cannot let the public forget all of the sacrifices that the men and women of the United States have made in the military,” said David Maxwell, an Army veteran and president of the Grand Strand’s chapter of the Rolling Thunder organization.
A presentation of the colors, a wreath laid and an address given by retired Army Chief Harold “Buster” Hatcher in Myrtle Beach, all to show appreciation for those who have and continue to fight for freedom.
For those who served, it’s also a time to tell their stories.
“They don’t know the stuff that we did when we were on active duty and now we can tell our stories,” disabled Navy Vietnam veteran Robert McCray said.
McCray told News13 he was based out of Charleston and spent 11 years in the Navy and nine years in the Air Force. He traveled to 18 countries around the world and spent most of his time out at sea helping to steer the ship.
Fredric Deckert served from 1968 to 1972 in the Navy, 14 months of which he served in Vietnam.
“In ’69, two days before Christmas, we had an air crash and that was a very bad day for the base,” said Deckert, another Navy veteran. “We lost 13 in the fire in the hangar and one at Balboa Hospital.”
Another Vietnam veteran, William Huffaker, told News13 he was shot twice, the second time while his patrol was ambushed.
“The first time I was shot it was just a little bit of shrapnel in my hand and my arm. Wasn’t much. I went to the hospital for about a week and a half and then I went back out. The second time I got shot in the head and spent a year in the hospital,” 173rd Airborne Division veteran Huffaker said.
Huffaker, who served from 1968 to 1971, says we should, too, recognize the soldiers still sacrificing.
“It’s more important to me now to see them doing it [for] the soldiers that are still over in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “I don’t ever want to see anybody come home to the stuff we came home to again.”
Maxwell, whose organization’s main mission is educating the public on prisoners of war and those missing in action, says it’s important to recognize that around 81,000 are still unaccounted for in all wars.