April 16, 2024

Dick Lemire graduated from a Catholic college in Montebello 60 years in the past and married his highschool sweetheart.

Quickly he had a “good job” working for the L.A. Division of Water and Energy.

“Rapidly, I began seeing guys I used to be working with beginning to disappear,” Lemire stated Thursday evening whereas volunteering on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall reproduction at El Cajon’s Wells Park.

“As quickly as they turned 21, they had been getting drafted — going into the Military or the Marines,” stated the Ramona resident, 77.

So Lemire — whose father-in-law was within the Navy and different family served in World Warfare II — thought: “I obtained a alternative on this matter. I believe I’m going to enlist within the Navy.”

That was 1966. He’d keep within the army for “30 years, three months, sooner or later” — retiring as a chief warrant officer 4.

He’s nonetheless serving, although.

Sundown panoramas of the reproduction Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Wells Park. Pictures by Ken Stone

Together with maybe 400 others this weekend, he was taking a shift Thursday at “The Wall That Heals,” open 24 hours a day.

He laughs and says: “I ought to have realized, you understand, that NAVY stands for ‘by no means once more volunteer your self’, however I ended up volunteering for lots of stuff. I have a look at it as payback” for a satisfying profession.

“They handled me very, very effectively,” he stated, “and after I obtained out of the Navy I went to varsity as a bona fide freshman at 51 years outdated.”

After incomes a math diploma, he taught at El Cajon Valley Excessive Faculty for 14 years — solely blocks from Wells Park and the haunting memorial reproduction on its japanese edge.

Lemire, who realized of the necessity for volunteers at Ramona VFW Put up 3783, is also a sheriff senior volunteer in Ramona and works with the Chamber of Commerce and the native Winery Affiliation.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund welcomes donations.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund welcomes donations. Picture by Ken Stone

“I’ve a winery in my again yard, (and) assist the wineries up there,” he says.

March 29 marks Nationwide Vietnam Warfare Veterans Day — 51 years for the reason that departure of the final American troops from Vietnam in 1973.

Lemire troopers on.

“I obtained to do the wall at present and I’ve obtained the training heart over right here on Sunday” when the show ends at 2 p.m. “So I volunteered twice.”