On Memorial Day morning, while the streets in High Springs were still quiet and the High Springs Fire Department was just pulling trucks out of the garage, six motorcycles pulled up in front of the Veteran’s Memorial next to High Springs City Hall.
Local veterans and High Springs Lions Club members greeted each other and quickly got down to the task at hand — paying tribute to fallen war heroes.
There were a dozen people taking part in the ceremony held at the memorial erected by Gordon Rimes of Post 97 of the American Legion High Springs on October 11, 1980.
The monument’s message: “In honor of those who served in time of war, A mighty mother turns in tears, the pages of her battle years, lamenting all her fallen sons.”
Veteran and Vice President of the U.S. Military Vets Spike Mueller rang a bell and first announced the Unknown Soldier and a flag was placed in the ground on the monument’s edge. One by one, Mueller spoke the names on the monument and a flag was placed in their honor.
“World War I: Oliver Marion Heidt and Gordon Rimes, World War II: James Paul Banks, Gordon Chappell, Norman Dear, James W. DeGraff, Grover W. McCall, Robert Gerald McDonnell, Irvin O’Steen, John Sharp, W.H. Swilley, Jr., Charles W. Smith, Joseph Pink Thompson, Samuel Tonge, James D. Westmoreland, Orman Rudolph Wimmer, and Vietnam: Dale McComb,” each were recognized.
The Veterans then saluted the war heroes and concluded the ceremony in 10 minutes time.
Scott Burton, 70, was a United State Marine and radio operator who served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970. “I still miss some people who didn’t make it,” he said.
Dan Mauldin, 59, served in the Army from 1980 to 1984. “I’m not a combat veteran,” he said about his time spent as an engineer. Mauldin said he just wanted to pay his respect to fallen heroes on Memorial Day.
And Ervin Hiney, 88, of Alachua said he enlisted at age 18 and served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. Hiney flew fighter planes including the B-52 and said he dropped bombs in Vietnam. He also served during the Korean War.
“I wanted to fly,” he said about why he joined the military. “They taught me to fly and gave me a plane.”
The U.S. Military Vets have a patch on their leather bike vests that reads: “In memory of those who gave their lives in the service of USA.”
And when they climbed on their motorcycles and drove away after the ceremony, they had accomplished their mission.