Local organization 4 State Friends of Veterans placed nine wreaths at seven local cemeteries on the grave sites of deceased Vietnam veterans.

MIAMI – Although the morning started out with rain Saturday, May 27, it did not stop local Vietnam veterans, spouses and friends from taking the time to honor their deceased brethren; a memorial they have been observing for the last five years.

Local organization 4 State Friends of Veterans placed nine wreaths at seven local cemeteries on the grave sites of deceased Vietnam veterans; eight of which were members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 277.

One wreath was placed at the headstone of Sgt. Fred Owens, a Picher soldier that never came home from Vietnam. Although Sgt. Owens went missing during his tour in Vietnam in 1965, his mother had a stone placed next to her own plot at the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Cemetery in Miami. The stone was a place she could visit and remember the son she never got to welcome home. The group decided to place a wreath for Sgt. Owens as a way to honor the local MIA soldier.

Group members included Bill and Marilyn Southard, Melvin Cook, Cindy Raney, Tom and Barb Mounce all of Miami, along with Art and Billy Hopkins of Vinita. The motley crew of eight were jovial between grave site visits as they remembered their friends but became serious and respectful during the placement of each wreath.

For the ceremony, a member of the group would settle the wreath into the rain-softened earth as Cook readied a recording of taps. With a signal, the group gathered around the stone and taps was played while the veterans saluted and civilians stood at attention. Many visitors to the cemeteries within the vicinity of the ceremony stopped, removing hats and some holding hands over their hearts in recognition and respect for the deceased veterans being honored.

4 State Friends of Veterans is an organization for members of the community that would like to support local veterans. You can be a veteran, but it is not required to join the group. The group has a variety of activities they participate in from poker runs to parades and ceremonies. The group also assists local veterans with signing up for their much-deserved VA benefits.

If you would like to join or learn more information about the 4 State Friends of Veterans organization, contact Cindy Raney at 918-542-2716.