Veteran and patriot organizations support Clark County KIA soldiers by starting tri-annual ceremonies in Vancouver
VANCOUVER — Within the last two decades, nearly 20 Clark County veterans have been killed in action. Two local groups endeavor so they might never be forgotten.
The Patriot Guard Riders and the Community Military Appreciation Committee (CMAC), have partnered to host remembrance ceremonies for all Clark County KIA veterans on the anniversary of their deaths; operating on a tri-annual rotation.
The first rotation is underway, with the fourth and fifth ceremonies coming up on Sept. 20 and 21, at the Clark County War Memorial by the Fort Vancouver Barracks.
The public is invited to attend in support of the soldiers and their families. The Vancouver Parks Service will assist with the events, which will last from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. on both days.
An opening prayer will take place, followed by opening comments from CMAC, and then words of remembrance about the life or service of individual. The family of the service member will receive a specially made plaque, and be allowed to say few words.
After 12 months of ceremonies, the groups will wait for a period of three years, and then conduct ceremonies for every veteran again.
This is to allow a rest period for the families, who may not want to have an event annually, said John Posey, USMC veteran and ride captain for the upcoming ceremonies and member of the Patriot Guard Riders.
“Our purpose is to try to make sure that we don’t forget,” Posey said. “A lot of these service members were killed in 2005, 2006, 2009 … and then the community just kinda goes back to sleep, and life goes on.”
The Patriot Guard Riders are a nationwide group that values patriotism and honoring veterans and service members. The local group became involved with the ceremonies after partnering with CMAC.
“So far, the families have all supported it,” said Lynn Vaughn, veteran and Southwest Washington district captain for the Patriot Guard Riders. “They have made the comment that… it is something that they have wished for, for many years.”
Posey and Vaughn developed a list of all KIA veterans from Clark County, as part of their effort to begin the ceremonies. Vaughn personally speaks with the family of each veteran prior to the event to find out where they are located and invite them to the ceremony.
The Riders contribute to the ceremonies by lining the area with flags and escorting the family and flags to the memorial via their motorcycles.
“I cannot say enough about that [Patriot Guard Riders] organization,” said Larry Smith, US Army veteran and co-chair of CMAC. “They are making sure that first responders as well as military are honored correctly.”
CMAC was founded in 2009, after the Army’s 104th Division, moved from the county to Fort Lewis. The 104th was responsible for many events like the remembrance ceremonies, and community members felt there needed to be a replacement coalition, Smith said.
“We’d like to see more community come out for these,” Vaughn said. “That’s the powerful feeling and image that the families need to know, is that the community hasn’t forgotten.”