Nearly 9 million Americans were honored by their community for their service during the Vietnam War. Residents and veterans in the Southeast Volusia area in Florida gathered in the New Smyrna Beach High School auditorium to show appreciate for veterans and their loved ones.
During the service, the Daytona Beach Chapter revealed a 5-by-4-foot picture collage featuring 119 men who were alumni of the historic high school that later served in Vietnam. Nearly 50 of the men still live in the Southeast Volusia area and were able to attend the ceremony.
This project to honor Vietnam veterans has been ongoing for the past year. Col. Frank Farmer of the VVA, along with seven other members in their local chapter, started the project as a way to preserve the history of those who served from their area.
There were many remarkable people in attendance at the ceremony. Barbara Dillon, with her daughter Melissa and two grandsons, Dillon and Daniel, was there to honor her husband, William (Billy) J. Dillon Jr., who recently died from an illness doctors believe may be a result of Agent Orange exposure.
Along with many family members representing their deceased veterans, several government officials were in the crowd. Some include Senator Dorothy L. Hukill and New Smyrna Beach Mayor Jim Hathaway.
Rod Phillips, a member of chapter 1048, spoke to the audience about the veterans’ sacrifices. He personally had served in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Division and the 11th Special Forces Group.
The beautiful composite picture with framed artwork depicting the war is now on display at the New Smyrna Beach Historical Museum.