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Vets honor a sight Greenville won’t soon forget


By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The Scouts, on the day of the dedication in September, hoisting the massive ceremonial flag onto the 80-foot flagpole. This photograph, taken by the Greenville Pioneer, was transformed into refrigerator magnets that the veterans group presented to the troop as a memento of that day. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

GREENVILLE — When the monument to Greene County residents who died in the Vietnam War was dedicated in September, there was one sight many participants won’t soon forget — an enormous U.S. flag that was carried in a special ceremony down Routes 81 and 32 by a team of Boy Scouts and their troop leaders.

As hundreds of onlookers watched, 20 Scouts and adult leaders carried the unfurled flag into the parking lot and hoisted it onto the new 80-foot flagpole in Veterans Park.

The sight of the massive American flag brought the crowd to a hushed silence.

On Jan. 4, the Vietnam veterans who planned and organized the monument’s creation and dedication visited with Boy Scout Troop 42 to thank them for their services on that day.

“We are here to say ‘thank you,’” organizer and Vietnam veteran Tim Broder told the troop. “We cannot express how proud we are for what you did on the day of the dedication. It’s like the entire county stood still and watched you walk around the corner with the flag, the symbol of our country. You did it with such pride, dignity and respect.”

Vietnam veterans presented a plaque and mounted photographs thanking Troop 42 for its work in carrying and hoisting the U.S. flag during the September dedication ceremony. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

The Scouts were preceded that day by several color guards and a motorcycle escort by the Patriot Riders of Albany.

“When you got there, you had 500 or 600 people on their feet, watching you, and it was a beautiful, beautiful sight,” Broder told the troop.

Organizer and Vietnam veteran Jim Sill said the memory of that day, and the flag ceremony, was unforgettable.

“It was an honor to be there and I’m sure you will remember it for a long time,” Sill told the troop. “I won’t forget it, so I thank you very much.”

Broder, Sill and Judge Bernard Malone, who organized the monument’s construction, installation and dedication — and were longtime members of the Northeast USA Vietnam Veterans Reunion Association, which spearheaded the project — presented the troop with a plaque in honor of their service that day, which was accepted by Scoutmaster Colin Tumey on the troop’s behalf.

Organizers of the Greene County monument honoring residents slain in the Vietnam War presented a plaque to Boy Scout Troop 42 thanking them for their service on the day of the monument’s dedication. Pictured, left to right, are Scoutmaster Colin Tumey and organizers Tim Broder, Judge Bernard Malone and Jim Sill. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

The veterans also presented the Scouts with enlarged and mounted photographs that were taken during the dedication by the Greenville Pioneer, along with refrigerator magnets emblazoned with a photo of the tremendous flag as the Scouts were hoisting it onto the flagpole.

Malone said the black granite monument, Battlefield Cross and flagpole serve as a reminder of the service and sacrifice of the 17 young men from Greene County who perished in the war.

“Greene County did not have a memorial for the 17 young men who died in Vietnam and got a one-way ticket to Vietnam,” Malone said. “As you pass the memorial, remember that day the memorial was dedicated. Remember the 17 young men who cannot be standing here like we are, with their children and grandchildren. We are very proud of what you did on the day of the dedication.”

Broder shows off enlarged and mounted photographs the veterans presented to Boy Scout Troop 42 in honor of their work on the day of the monument’s dedication. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Scoutmaster Colin Tumey said 20 Scouts and troop leaders were needed to carry the unfolded flag and place it onto the flagpole.

“We didn’t realize how big the flag was,” Tumey said. “Before the dedication, at one of our meetings we got a tarp that was the size we were told the flag would be so we could practice. We went out into the parking lot and practiced how to turn — we didn’t want to go there and not have done something to prepare. But when we opened the flag it was even bigger than we thought and quite heavy. But we had enough adults and big kids that we put in the right places.”

The experience was a good lesson in civic duty for the Scouts, Tumey said.

“I think it was really good for the kids,” he said. “It’s good for them to not only learn about history but to get involved in it and know how important the flag is, and how important these men’s service was. I was really proud of them.”

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