WESTFIELD, NJ - An installation ceremony for Westfield's Vietnam Memorial at Memorial Park took place Sunday afternoon.
“We are here today for the overdue honoring of 11 sons of Westfield who dies in the Vietnam War,” said Keith Givens, chairman of the 501C Westfield Veterans Fund.
The ceremony started with the posting of colors by the color guard of the nearby brother 209 American Legion Post of the Westfield American Legion Post #3. The keynote speaker was Peter Braun, a West Point graduate as well as a graduate of Westfield High School class of 1961. Braun spoke about how he personally knew six of the men whose names are on the monument.
“I was raised in Westfield and knew six of them very well,” said Braun.
Braun said that he knew James T. Egan Jr. from Wilson Elementary School as well as Cub Scouts. Braun knew Arthur “Skip” Retzlaff as well as Richard G. Lewis from attending Westfield Methodist Church, which stands across the street from the memorial, and he was in the same homeroom class as Richard Brunn.
Vietnam veteran and retired army nurse Mary Jo Rice shared her experience with the war, addressing the families of those who lost loved ones.
“We cared for your loved ones in every way as if they were our own,” said Rice.
The 11 names were read by Ltc. Tom Cusimano and Ltc. Peter Heesch, followed by a rifle salute and the playing of “Taps."
After the ceremony everyone was invited to a reception at the Martin Wallberg American Legion Post #3 at 1003 North Ave.