Vietnam veterans and their families gathered for a solemn roll call at Brookings City Hall Friday evening to honor those who died in that war as part of the kickoff to Memorial Day weekend.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 757 President Bill Farrell noted than many in the community don’t know what the local chapter does for veterans, who comprise almost 30 percent of the population in Curry County. He told those gathered that the local chapter has contributed about $80,000 to help 70 local veterans, which extrapolates to 100 people. The assistance has included everything from housing to gas money.

Tears fell as various members of the veteran community read 871 names of those who died in Oregon, including five who were from the Brookings area and another seven whose families are new to the Brookings-Harbor area.

The event is the traditional opening of the Memorial Day weekend, which coincides with Azalea Festival.

The five from Brookings who were killed in Vietnam include Gaylord Nathan Klinefelter, 1944-1966; Jerry Schroeder, 1943-1968; Keith Reitz, 1948-1970; John Brannon, 1952-1971 and William Davis, 1949-70, in Cambodia.

The seven Vietnam veterans whose families are new to the area include Michael Brancato, Peter Richard Carroll, Michael Cale Clawson, Robert Edwin Gulbrandsen, Jim Jacobsen, Owen Edward Mebust and Victor Manuel Yadiez.

“A veteran is someone who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check to the United States of America for any amount,” said Vietnam veteran Lump Turner, “including their life.”

Also among the 40 or so in gathered around the flagpole was County Commissioner Court Boice, Brookings City Councilor Bill Hamilton, Roseburg Veterans Affairs interim Director David Whitmer and veterans advocate Connie Hunter.

U.S. Marine Corps League played taps and held a gun salute to conclude the ceremony.

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