South Georgia - Sunday
A simple granite monument dedicated to 70 members of the 114th Aviation Company was unveiled Saturday, May 27, 2000. Many members of the 114th Aviation Company gathered for the dedication. The monument was placed in front of a helicopter that is part of the park’s aircraft exhibit. The helicopter was used by the 114th during the Vietnam War. You can read the names and find information about these men on the units memorial wall page.
Monument Dedicated to Fallen Friends
By Tony Britt
Though several people see the holiday as just another break from work, a group of former GIs honored their fallen friends, brothers and loved ones at a memorial dedication Saturday.
The dedication ceremony was held at the Georgia Veterans’ Memorial State Park exhibit area and served as an opportunity for members of the 114th Aviation Company to honor their 70 friends who died in the Vietnam War.
During the ceremony, which featured military speakers from around the country a red granite memorial was unveiled in honor of the 70 men who died in Vietnam.
"Everything went perfect, couldn’t have been any better," said Tom Nesbitt, who was instrumental in having the monument placed at the park. "We thought we were going to get into a tight spot at the last minute and we were about five minutes late getting started, but everything came together. I think the Buglers and the Color Guard were the highlights of the ceremony. I think we had 35 people here from the 114th."
As Chaplin Lt. Col. Charles Smith of the Dodge County JROTC program read the names of the 70 soldiers which had been inscribed in the memorial, a lone bagpiper played Amazing Grace.
Several audience members, many with tears dropping from their eyes, saluted and stood at attention during this solemn portion of the program.
As the a pair of buglers followed and played Taps in the background, a red-poppy Wreath was placed next to the new memorial by Clyde Scott and Ginger Shannon, wife of Ken Shannon who's name is on the memorial stone. Then Warner Robins American Legion post’s color guard unit fired a seven gun salute.
Shortly after the ceremony, several audience members gathered around the new memorial looking for familiar names and offered their fallen loved ones a salute.
Bob Bilshausen, a member of the 114th Association, came from Chicago, Ill., to attend the memorial dedication. "Today’s ceremony was very moving and fantastic," he said. "I wouldn’t have missed it."
"Tom Nesbitt did a heck of a job putting everything together," said Andy Anderson, a member of the 114th from Deland, Fla. "I just really appreciate it. Some of my friends names are etched on that memorial stone. I lost a lot of friends over there in Vietnam."
Nesbitt started the push to get a monument for the 114th Vietnam veterans at the park several years ago and worked until he and his friends made the monument a reality.
Saturday, Nesbitt and his friends from Pennsylvania, Florida, Mississippi, Illinois, Georgia, and Texas, came together to pay homage to their fallen friends.
"I think the people that were here are going to appreciate Veterans more," Nesbitt said. "After this ceremony, I think the people, who were here will have a better understanding of why they are able to walk around free and not take it for granted... like most people tend to do."
This monument is the first monument to any specific group of veterans in Georgia Veterans’ Memorial State Park.
"We can’t do enough for those guys," Nesbitt said of the 70 men from his company that lost their lives during the war. "They’re gone. They died young and they won’t ever have a family. This is just a little something, but we’ll keep on remembering them.”
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