Morley Community Center honors Vietnam veterans

MORLEY — After honoring World War II veterans in 2020 and Korean veterans in 2021, this year on July 4, three local veterans will share their experiences in Vietnam.

Two of them are Purple Heart recipients, and all will represent the other men and women who served the county during this war.

This July 4 event will be co-sponsored with the Morley American Legion and will begin at 11 a.m. in the parking lot on the north side of the center, 151 Seventh St., Morley. Richard Nielson, Gene Vining and Dale Ullrich will tell their stories. After the presentation, a free lunch will be served at the community center made possible by a generous donation from Meijer Inc.

At the Community Center’s grand opening in July 2019, the keynote speaker was Lt. Col. Donald Odell, who was a prisoner of war for 5½ years after his fighter was shot down in North Vietnam. Odell passed away in the fall of 2020. On his birthday, July 25, a pedestrian suspension bridge over the Little Muskegon River will be dedicated to honor Odell for his service and in appreciation for his speaking at the opening of the Centre. His widow Susan and members of her family will be present at the inauguration of the bridge. Reservations are required to allow planning of transportation to the signing site.

For more information on either event, call 231-856-4496 or email [email protected] These presentations will take place in the gymnasium of the Morley Community Center if the weather prohibits the event at the planned locations.

Seven US presidents have dealt with Vietnamese issues over the years, and Stanley Karnow covered this story in his book “Vietnam”. Karnow was a war correspondent when the French fought the Vietnamese and during our involvement there. His work is featured in podcast-length segments that will be scheduled in the Center’s Vietnam Room starting in late July. The Vietnam room is dedicated to Roger Friesner, the only Morley area casualty in that war.

Jill E. Washington