Home News Local News Veterans, families remember service, sacrifice in Vietnam

Veterans, families remember service, sacrifice in Vietnam

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Patsy Silva, center, places a poppy on a wreath in remembrance of her brother Arturo Sisneros during a ceremony Monday afternoon for Vietnam Veterans Day at American Legion Post No. 28, 1620 N. Montana Ave. Post Adjutant Louie Mestas, right, led the ceremony while Arsilia Alvarez, president of the American Legion Auxiliary, left, assisted families and veterans honoring those who died in Vietnam. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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Memories of the Chaves County men who died in Vietnam are always in the minds of their family members, but a veteran made a plea to others Monday: “Don’t ever forget us.”

Magil Duran wasn’t in Vietnam but served in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division during those years. He made that plea during a ceremony Monday afternoon for Vietnam Veterans Day at American Legion Post No. 82, 1620 N. Montana Ave.

Today, he serves his fellow veterans as president of the Southeast New Mexico Veterans Transportation Network, which provides veterans with transportation to medical appointments at no cost.

“You look at youngsters today, they have no inkling of recent history,” he said after the ceremony.

The freedoms Americans have are due to those who serve in the military, he said.

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“The freedoms that we have are not free,” he said.

Twenty-two men from Chaves County died in the Vietnam War, most of them only 19 or 20 years old.

During the ceremony, their family members and other veterans stepped to the lectern one at a time to read their names, military branch, age and when they died, then placed a poppy on a wreath. Some said a few words about their loved one or the service of veterans.

Wes Marling honored his brother, Billie Marling, a private first class in the U.S. Army who was killed March 21, 1971, at the age of 19.

“So many of them are forgotten, but this gives them a chance to be recognized,” he said.

Wes Marling is also a veteran, having served in the Army in Germany.

“I had four months left when I got the word he had passed away. So I had to come home and face that. That’s something you always remember,” he said.

Patsy Silva said it was right after Mother’s Day in 1969 when her family learned her younger brother Arturo Sisneros had been killed. He was 19 and a corporal in the U.S. Army from Dexter

“He was the best brother that I could have ever had. I love him dearly,” she said.

“He was a real kind person. He was always helping other people,” she said.

Her brother’s kindness is a reason Silva joined auxiliary groups with the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“I just want to be here just because of him. I feel like I have to help other people like he used to help other people,” she said.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh gave brief remarks at the ceremony, saying words were inadequate but needed to be said.

“The treatment Vietnam veterans received when they came home is nothing less than appalling,” he said. “We can’t undo that. All I can say to those who are here today on behalf of the city of Roswell is welcome home.”

Roswell City Councilman Juan Oropesa, himself an Army veteran, read a poem titled “Soldier,” and Marine veteran Don Alvarez spoke about Vietnam prisoners of war and those missing in action.

More than 1,700 personnel were listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as missing in action or as prisoners of war from Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia, Alvarez said, with more than 90% of them still unaccounted for.

The 22 men from Chaves County who died in Vietnam are John K. Adams, Army, Roswell; Abelardo Araujo, Army, Roswell; Rodney J. Black, Army, Roswell; Monty D. Boyer, Army, Roswell; Larry P. Campos, Army, Roswell; Melvin Carrillo, Army, Roswell; John R. Cummins, Army, Roswell; George R. De Shurley, Navy, Roswell; James L. Foster, Marines, Roswell; Robert L. Graham, Army, Roswell; William C. Jones, Army, Roswell; Billie J. Marling, Army, Roswell; Sammy C. Romero, Army, Roswell; Trine Romero, Army, Roswell; Hector M. Saenz, Army, Roswell; Cresencio P. Sanchez, Marines, Roswell; Jose L. Sanchez, Army, Dexter; Julius M. Sanders, Marines, Roswell; Gerald S. Simons, Army, Roswell; Arturo S. Sisneros, Army, Dexter; Bennie L. West, Marines, Roswell; and Lavon S. Wilson., Army, Roswell.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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