Dublin VA honors veterans, war dead at Memorial Day service

DUBLIN — In 1950, Reginald Graham was a teenager at war in Korea, on a detail he and the other men called the “Little Red Ball Express,”

Their job was to haul ammo and supplies to the front — and to bring bodies back to camp.

“I lost a lot of friends. One person was shot right beside me,” the East Dublin man, now 78, said at Sunday’s Memorial Day service at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center.

“I try to make all the Memorial Day services,” he said. “Memorial Day and (Nov. 11, Veterans Day) are very emotional days for me, remembering my friends that have gone on.”

About 150 people joined Graham in the veterans hospital auditorium. Some were in wheelchairs, a few of them missing limbs. Some, like Graham, wore patches and hats proclaiming their time and branch of service and affiliation with veterans groups.

When the color guard from Dublin High School’s Junior ROTC program posted the colors, the old soldiers snapped to attention.

Tech Sgt. Joe Torres of Robins Air Force Base, the keynote speaker, talked about how each veteran has his or her own way of remembering.

He recalled seeing his father, a veteran, cry for the first time when visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., eight years ago.

“I started to go over there to him, but my mother told to let him have his time.”

His grandfather, a World War I veteran, never said much about his time at war, Torres said.

“He didn’t tell stories. He just said he was there, and he had is ID card. ... His ID card was his way of remembering.”

Torres commended the veterans on hand for their service.

“You paved the way for people like me to come up and defend our country, to carry that torch. Freedom is the gift that you’ve given, and I thank you.”

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.