'It's much needed': Dansville American Legion honors Vietnam veterans

Legion Auxiliary member Kathy Nagle said that a lot of veterans did not receive recognition when they returned home, “so this is just my way of making sure they get recognition now.”

By Jeff Miller
The Express
John and Kathy Nagle during a recognition luncheon for Vietnam veterans inside Dansville's American Legion on March 27.

DANSVILLE — Daniel Goho American Legion Post honored local Vietnam veterans with a lunch on March 27.

The lunch was provided free to veterans and guests in the Legion’s downstairs bar room. The luncheon was spearheaded by Legion Auxiliary member Kathy Nagle after having read about a similar honor in a veteran’s magazine in 2018.

“I’m really happy with the turnout we had today,” Nagle said.

The turnout was a little more than in previous years, with hardly an empty chair left in the room. The luncheon started in 2018 and 2019, but halted during the past two years because of COVID. She, other Auxiliary members and Tom DePuy made and served the buffet-style lunch for the veterans.

“It’s a little bit of everybody helping,” she said.

Nagle said that a lot of veterans did not receive recognition when they returned home, “so this is just my way of making sure they get recognition now.” She said that she went to school with a lot of these men, “so I can relate to them.”

Her husband, John, served in the Army Finance Corp. during the early years of the war. He said he was grateful for the veterans’ recognition and that there seems to be more gratitude now than in previous generations for their service.

“I think they’re more aware we were just doing our job for our country,” he said.

Among those in attendance was Tim Collmer from Nunda, who will be installed as the 2023-24 New York Department Commander. A department commander oversees all American Legions in New York’s 10 districts. He will also accompany the National Commander’s visits to New York. Collmer will be the first department commander from Livingston County in the Legion’s more than 100-year history.

Daniel Goho American Legion Post honored local Vietnam veterans with a lunch on March 27.

When asked about the luncheon, Collmer said, “It’s much needed. It needs to happen more often. These folks that spent the time in Vietnam deserve this. They deserved it a long time ago.”

Though Collmer did not serve in the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the Army just months before the war ended in 1975. He spent the next 21 years in the reserves, having served in active duty during Desert Storm.

As part of the honor, tables were lined together with framed etchings of the names of Livingston County Vietnam veterans who perished in the war. The etchings were donated by Jason Skinner, who etched the names from The Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. He also donated a Vietnam War 50th anniversary flag. The table also had local veterans’ photo albums from their time in the war.

Livingston County recognizes Vietnam War Veterans Day

The Livingston County Board of Supervisors proclaimed March 29 as Vietnam War Veterans Day in Livingston County.

The date honors those who served during the Vietnam War, one of the longest military conflicts in American’s history. In total, more than 3.4 million service members were deployed to Southeast Asia, 2.7 million served in the designated war zone, 153,000 were wounded, and over 58,000 were killed in the theater of operation during the war. The names of 4,120 fellow New Yorkers are among the deceased listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C., said Livingston County Veteran Services Director Jason Skinner.

“We mark this day to honor those who bravely fought for their country and to ensure we never forget their service and sacrifice,” explained Skinner. “Vietnam veterans endured unspeakable hardships and risked their lives fighting for the ideals of democracy.”

Of the 58,318 names listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 21 of them called Livingston County, N.Y., home. They are Gerald Dailey, Arnold Duryea, David T. Fellows, Paul R. Fusco, John W. Geary, Donald Graves, Robert C. Henderson, Irwin Knickerbocker, Gerald P. Metott, Raymond Miles, Robert Prete, James E. Pringle, Francis Rosebrugh, James Schulz, Robert P. Sickles, James N. Sweet, Patrick Tremblay, John Ugino, Edwin F. Upright, James Widener, and Charles D. Wilkie.

The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 amended title 4 of the United States Code, Section 6(d) to include National Vietnam War Veterans Day as an important occasion on which the flag should be raised. The Livingston County Board of Supervisors will solemnly commemorate the anniversary of this day and reflect upon its significance for past, present, and future generations.