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Brown County veterans honored for their service

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BROWN COUNTY, Texas - Veterans and their families attended a Memorial Day ceremony in Brown County Monday morning.

Eastlawn Memorial Cemetery and the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 3278 put together a program to honor those still living and those who died protecting the freedoms Americans enjoy.

The event included several speakers, including retired U.S. Navy Chaplain Jim Looby.

In his keynote message, Chaplain Looby quoted President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, where the president called for unity in the midst of the Civil War.

Manuel Vasquez, who served in the Vietnam War, said he tries to attend this event yearly whether rain or shine.

"I was in Vietnam, and like everybody else, I went to preserve our freedom," Vasquez said wearing his medal.

Vasquez was in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. His tour of duty was cut short because of burns he suffered.

"We were shot down from a helicopter," he said. "And my sergeant died."

He said it was the third time he'd been involved in a helicopter crash..

Brownwood City Councilman Jerry DeHay was at the service and said he's appreciative of the ultimate sacrifice veterans paid.

"Camp Bowie was a very significant period in the history of this community," Councilman DeHay, who represents Ward Five, said. "And left a legacy, I think, that will last here a long, long time."

Eastlawn recently erected a veteran's statue on its grounds honoring the four branches of the military.

For Monday's event, there were 954 American flags placed at graves where a service member was buried.

"Veterans of Foreign Wars supports many, many things," VFW Post 3278 Cmdr. James Masters said. "And we're all driven towards veterans and their survivors."

Vasquez, like many others who attended Monday's observance, said he had no regrets about fighting in Vietnam.

"I'm proud to have done my service, my part for our country to preserve our freedom, for everyone," he said.

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