Note: This story appears in the Friday, Nov. 1 newspaper on Page A1.
McARTHUR — Larry Clary has accomplished many things in his life. He served as Vinton County treasurer, had the title of assistant fire chief in McArthur, worked at the sewer and water department and was an EMT charter member, to name a few.
Now he can add his recent participation in the Honor Flight program to that list.
Honor Flight Columbus serves American veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as the Cold War periods before Vietnam.
Clary served in the United States Army for 25 months during the time of the Vietnam War. He was trained as a combat medic and served on the Medical Corps.
This flight was particularly special: it was the 100th mission of the program. Veterans on the mission were diverse. One was a Navy Corpsman attached to US Marine Corps; one was a Crew Chief on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, one served as an Atomic Weapons Maintenance Specialist, and so much more. Nine of the veterans on this mission were awarded the Purple Heart.
In all, a total of 232 veterans participated in this mission, which consisted of two planes.
Clary departed for the Honor Flight mission on Oct. 19. The group flew to Baltimore, then bused down to Washington, D.C. The veterans were then escorted around the nation’s capital.
Former Vinton County Commissioner Jim Satory, a veteran himself, served with his wife, Pam, as “guardians” to Clary on the trip. Satory participated in an Honor Flight last year.
Upon returning to the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, Clary and the other veterans were greeted by hundreds of people waving and cheering, as well as people playing bagpipes and even members of The Ohio State University marching band.
“It was a ‘welcome home’ we didn’t receive after Vietnam,” Clary said.
In returning to Vinton County, several local fire departments and law enforcement agencies escorted Clary back into town. This was a special surprise to Clary that his children arranged for him.
“It was an awesome day,” he said.
Students at Central Elementary, where his daughter Michele Royster works, also wrote letters to and made cards for Clary to read on his return home.
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Sydney Dawes is the editor of The Vinton-Jackson Courier newspaper.