Local black veterans honored for their service in Vietnam

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Saturday the city of Springfield honored five black Vietnam veterans who were killed overseas defending our country.

The National Association for Black Veterans or “NABVETS”, held the annual ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Monument in Winchester Square.

The city built the monument in 1968 to forever memorialize Ronald Hurst, Gus Stovall Jr., Norman Farris, David Owens, and James Starnes.

Family members paid tribute Saturday to their loved ones who died in the war.

“I have two uncles here, uncle David and uncle James,” Deacon Robbie-Owens of Springfield told 22News. “This memory means a lot to me. It’s an honor to have my family members be recognized in this fashion.”

Vietnam veterans also reflected on the war and the hostility they had to deal with in the U.S. after they came home.

Thomas Hodge said he’s proud to have been able to serve in the Marines.

He told 22News, “We grew up with these guys on the monument. As a matter of fact, Ronnie Hurst got killed before I went into the Marine Corps but it didn’t stop me from going because just about everybody, young men, was going into the military.”

Hodge and other vets also talked about PTSD, and said more needs to be done to help veterans who suffer from it.

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