MT. ZION -Â Members of the Mt. Zion Historical Society, Vietnam Veterans of America Bucktail Chapter 720, and American Legion Post 978 all worked together to fulfill the dream of the late Ronald Guilyard on Saturday, dedicating a memorial at the Mt. Zion Historical Park in honor of the eight soldiers from Elk County who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.
The memorial contains a depiction of the country of Vietnam with the names of four of the deceased soldiers on each side. At the bottom, there is also an inscription explaining Guilyardâ€™s influential role in the project.
â€ś[Guilyard] passed away in February of this year due to a chemical that was sprayed in Vietnam, Agent Orange,â€ť explained Ed Greenawalt, president of VVA Bucktail Chapter 720. â€śHe tried to kick his cancer. He had it licked for a while. Every meeting [he] came to, right up until he died, he laid groundwork for each one of us thatâ€™s in the black shirts (members of the Vietnam Veterans Bucktail Chapter 720) here today. [He] told us what we needed to do to complete this ceremony and dedication for the KIAs. We made a commitment after Ronnieâ€™s passing that weâ€™d do whatever it takes and however it takes to make this successful.â€ť
The eight soldiers who were honored for sacrificing their lives in the Vietnam War were:
Sgt. Larry Wayne Gardner â€“ the son of Henry and Emma Weissenfluh Gardner, Larry served in the Marines and was killed on Jan. 21, 1967 after being wounded a few days prior in South Vietnam. He was the first Ridgway native and Elk County resident to die in the war.