Ho-Chunk Nation honors Vietnam War veterans

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Mar 31, 2010 4 Comments ›› admin

Published – Wednesday, March 31, 2010 by Cassandra Colson | Reporter

March 29 marked both the Ho-Chunk Nation and state of Wisconsin’s first Vietnam Veterans Day, which honors servicemen and women who fought in the conflict more than 40 years ago.

Area officials and veterans gathered for a ceremony held Monday at Majestic Pines Casino in Black River Falls. The Nation, like the state of Wisconsin, issued a proclamation naming March 29 Vietnam Veterans Day to honor Ho-Chunk warriors and all servicemen and women who fought in the Vietnam War.

“This is a day of honor. It’s a testament to the sacrifice of those who served so courageously and it reminds us — those of us who haven’t worn the uniform — that we must be more than just beneficiaries of the bravery of our military, but we must actively begin to repay the debt of honor owed for that sacrifice,” said State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, who sponsored the bill to create the state’s Vietnam Veterans Day.

“I’m here to say to you ‘thank you’ — a thousand times thank you. Thank you for performing your duty with the same courage and valor with which we honor all veterans of wars … It is long past time for us to come and seek you out, our protectors, and thank you for your service.”

Congressman Ron Kind also spoke at the ceremony, noting the Nation had more members serving in the armed forces per capita during Vietnam than any other group.

“The Vietnam War is the most misunderstood war in our nation’s history,” Kind said. “But what should never be misunderstood is the tremendous service and courage and sacrifice that our Vietnam veterans gave our nation.”

Fred Camacho, a Ho-Chunk Vietnam War veteran and Nation Department of Labor official, noted the sacrifice of the more than 55,000 American servicemen who were killed in action and the effects of the conflict on those who did return home. Camacho closed his remarks with what he said he considered a fitting poem.

“A veteran — whether active duty, retired or reserve or national guard — is someone who at one point in their life wrote a blank check to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life,” Camacho said. “That is an honor, and there are too many people in this country who no longer understand that.

“As veterans we understand, as veterans we appreciate, as veterans we simply ask, as another member of our brotherhood once (said) ‘It’s not what my country can do for me, it’s what I can do for my country.’ You answered that call to service.”

The Nation paid tribute to the two Ho-Chunk warriors who lost their lives in the Vietnam War — PFC Elliot DeCora and SP4 Anthony LaMere. DeCora was killed in August 1968 in South Vietnam by hostile fire. He was awarded several medals, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

LaMere was killed in July 1971 while walking the point position on combat patrol. He also was awarded several medals, which included the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Vinehout read and presented a citation to the Nation, which included the men and detailed their sacrifice.

The families of the men, who both served in the Army, were presented with wreaths, honoring them and their families’ sacrifices. DeCora’s sister Shirley Lonetree and LaMere’s brother Frank LaMere spoke at the ceremony, both touching upon their siblings’ sacrifices and the importance of celebrations like Monday’s event.

“What the state of Wisconsin and Ho-Chunk people have done is a good thing,” LaMere said. “Perhaps all the states will come to an understanding … that we cannot forget.”

Robert Mann, tribal veteran service officer with the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Division of Veterans Affairs, said approximately 250 Ho-Chunk warriors served in Vietnam. Mann worked with Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland to develop the Nation’s proclamation, which he said was long overdue and honors all Vietnam veterans, including Ho-Chunk servicemen.

“When the governor made the (state’s) proclamation last year, I thought about it for a long time and I thought of our Ho-Chunk warriors,” Mann said. “I wanted to do the same thing for our veterans — to recognize and honor them. It’s a day that is really needed to not forget these heroes.

“It was a long time coming.”

Cleveland said he was humbled to stand before Vietnam veterans and issue the Nation’s proclamation.

“It was a very humbling experience (writing the proclamation) because we know that as Ho-Chunk people that we hold our warriors in high esteem,” Cleveland said. “And although we had done that for our warriors that came back from Vietnam, it was never officially recognized by the United States or the state of Wisconsin until the governor had done this. And to further support the governor and what his idea was, this proclamation has been made.”

http://www.jacksoncountychronicle.com


Comments

  1. Charles l Waldron says:

    I served with Elliot De Cora in Vietnam.
    He was my friend I was there the night he was killed
    I helped pull him off of the firing line
    I would like to meet his family Someday
    I’m retired now and I will be traveling
    Up thru Wisconsin in the next few months
    How can I contact his family
    Thank you. Chuck waldron
    941 -504-8540

  2. Dear Chuck

    Contact the local American Legion post in Tomah, Wis and ask for Errol Mrotek. Errol is Elliot’s brother-in-law. I believe it is the Blackhawk Legion.

    I just saw this post this evening, April 28, 2012. Hope you get to meet his family.

    I am Elliot’s first cousin, Betty Blackdeer Preece.

  3. Charles l Waldron says:

    I thank you for the information.
    I will contact the legion post in Tomah
    When I arrive there in a couple of weeks
    Thanks Chuck Waldron

  4. Ron Mueller says:

    My name is Ron Mueller.

    I attended New Lisbon High (Class of “66”) with Elliott DeCora. The last time I saw Elliott was at the New Lisbon School Christmas program December 1967. We were both home on leave and, in our Army dress greens, went to see our siblings participating in the school program. We sat and had a very nice visit that night, wishing each other “Happy Holidays,” good luck and see you next year. We both were destined for Vietnam……little did I know it would be our last visit.

    When my Mom sent me the tragic news of Elliott’s death I just didn’t want to believe it. Eliott was a true friend and I think of him on a daily basis. That last visit we had became very special to me—I relive it over and over. I’ve been to Wyeville looking for his resting place, but was unable to find it. I have, however, visited Elliott at the “Wall” in D.C. several times and traced his name from there. I also heard his name called at the Highground Memorial dedication at Neilsville.

    In September 2011, for the first time since coming home from Nam, I attended my unit reunion. I was with the 577th Engineer Battalion, 18th Engineer Brigade. This year, September 2012, I attended my second reunion in D.C. As I read off the names of guys from our unit that we lost I made special mention of my good friend and classmate Elliott. It seems like just yesterday we were saying our goodbyes at New Lisbon High. I was honored and proud to know Elliott and to have him as a very kind and good friend.

    Gone but not forgotten!

    Sincerely,
    Ron Mueller

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