DOVER — The Kent County chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America will hold a Memorial Day ceremony at 2 p.m. May 29 at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park.
The keynote speaker will be retired Chief Master Sgt. Herbert Earl Welday III, a Mortuary Control Center specialist who serves as the dignified-transfer coordinator for Friends of the Fallen at Dover Air Force Base.
The ceremony will acknowledge the Friends, who are volunteers who work with families from across the nation and beyond who travel to Dover to receive the remains of their loved ones. These volunteers and the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operation provide a critical measure of respect in dignified transfers.
Dover Air Force Base’s Mortuary Affairs still receives remains discovered from previous conflicts. And the Friends of the Fallen track incoming aircraft with fallen heroes, while assisting families through the dignified-transfer process.
The Kent County Memorial Park, funded by the sale of bricks and public donations, was dedicated Nov. 11, 2009. Originally focused on Kent County’s Vietnam causalities, it was later expanded to include memorials to Gold Star families, the Korean War and Middle East conflicts.
A later memorial to war dogs was added near a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, with memorial bricks honoring Dustoff medical evacuation crews who saved some 900,000 lives during Vietnam. The latest dedication was of a POW/MIA Chair of Honor in 2017.
Chapter member and event emcee Dave Skocik said, “In addition to honoring all generations of Kent County veterans lost in our nation's conflicts, this event has special significance to Vietnam veterans, in that Jan. 7, 2023, marked the 50th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords that ended American combat in Vietnam.
"Additionally, last November was the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.”
Mr. Skocik served 18 months in Vietnam before being assigned to Dover Air Force Base in February 1968.