Students honor Vietnam vet

Audrey Caro Gomez

Vietnam War veteran Roy Grabeel was honored Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Sweet Home Veterans Memorial on Main Street in front of Hoy’s Hardware.

Hawthorne Elementary School students walked to the memorial where fifth-grade students Gavin Grabeel, Justin Maynard and Myler Morgan presented him with a brick.

The Hawthorne Elementary Glee Club, which is comprised of students in first through fifth grades, performed.

Julia Gleaves’ fifth-grade class cleared the area for Grabeel to place the brick and also was present for the ceremony.

Grabeel’s wife, Gail, ordered the brick through the city of Sweet Home. s

The honor was a far cry from what Grabeel experienced decades ago when tensions were high about the Vietnam War, he said.

“(I was) sent to Seattle to march in a parade,” Grabeel said. “People were spitting and throwing stuff.”

Grabeel served in Vietnam and re-enlisted to complete 20 years in the U.S. Army.

“I’ve heard more ‘thank you for your service’ in the last three or four years,” Grabeel said.

He appreciates the recognition and stopped the students before they headed back to school to tell them so.

“I wanted to thank you for the beautiful song,” Grabeel told them. “You did just great.”

Grabeel received a second honor after the students headed back to school: a quilt from Quilts of Valor.

Sandra Olson presented him with the quilt, which he wrapped around himself after admiring it.

The organization’s mission is to cover all combat service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor, according to the website.

“It’s meant to be used,” Olson said, encouraging him to use it rather than hang it on a wall.

After the ceremony, Grabeel lingered around the memorial bricks, reading the names.

“This is nice,” he said. “I hope they’re here for a long time. I know a lot of these guys in here.”