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Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs Honoring 21 Vietnam War and Vietnam Era Veterans with Tributes at Silver Spring Civic Building Now Through May

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs is honoring 21 Montgomery County Vietnam War and Vietnam Era veterans with detailed tributes displayed now through the end of May at Buffalo Soldiers Great Hall at the Silver Spring Civic Building. The displays are free to view any time the Civic Building is open to the public.

The Silver Spring Civic Building is located at One Veterans Place in Downtown Silver Spring. National Vietnam War Veterans Day is observed every year on March 29. The special day recognizes U.S. Armed Forces personnel with active duty service between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of location of service.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates, there are 42,509 County residents who are veterans. Of that number, 11,272 are Vietnam War or Era veterans. Records show that 130 County residents were killed in Vietnam and their names are on the County's Vietnam Memorial Wall, which was dedicated in 2018 on Memorial Plaza adjacent to the Executive Office Building in Rockville. More information is available about each at  www.montgomerycountymd.gov/veterans. Click on the “Fallen Heroes” tab.

The County service members and veterans featured in the tribute of photos, background information and details of accomplishments during their military careers and afterward include Douglas "Lamar" Allen, Jr.; Everett Alvarez, Jr.; Daniel Bullis; Stephen Campanella; Fred Cherry, Sr.; Michael Cronin; Elwood Gray, Jr.; William "Bill" Gray; Otto “Greg” Hamilton; Arthur Holmes, Jr.; John “Jay”Kenney; Isiah Leggett; Jane McCarthy; Charles McGee; Wayne Miller; Thomas Murphy; Bob Norton; Lawrence J. Stark; Michael Subin; Hubert Clifford Walker, Jr. and Michael Walsh. Below are their brief bios. Many more details of their lives are part of the Silver Spring display.

  • Douglas "Lamar" Allen, Jr.: The U.S. Army lieutenant, who is now a Burtonsville resident, piloted Huey and Scout helicopters for Delta Troop 1st of the 10th Calvary for the 4th Infantry Division missions at “tree-top” level during his tours in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970. In March 1969, during heavy inclement weather in the Central Highlands, he learned a ground unit had been ambushed and wounded soldiers were still under attack. The normal Medevac unit indicated it was grounded due to the weather. Allen decided to try and get the wounded soldiers to safety and his unit rescued all six. For his service, Allen was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star medal and 26 air medals.
  • Everett Alvarez, Jr.: Commander Alvarez, now a Potomac resident, was the first American aviator taken captive in Vietnam after being shot down near Hanoi and became the second longest-held U.S. prisoner of war in U.S. history. He was a Navy pilot based on the USS Constellation aircraft carrier in the South China Sea on Aug. 5, 1964, when he was part of a bombing mission sent in retaliation after a reported North Vietnamese attack on two U.S. destroyers. Alvarez’s Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was shot down in what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident that marked the start of a significant escalation of U.S. military action in Vietnam. He endured eight years and seven months of brutal captivity by the North Vietnamese at the Hỏa Lò Prison, known by fellow POWs as the “Hanoi Hilton.” He was released on Feb. 12, 1973. He holds numerous military decorations including the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronzes Stars and two Purple Hearts.
  • Daniel Bullis: The sergeant major served 31 years in the Army Medical Department as a medic. In Vietnam from 1969-70, he served with the 24th Evacuation Hospital, treating casualties, prisoners of war and local children with injuries. He served in numerous leadership positions culminating with his selection as the first Sergeant Major Army Medical Department/senior enlisted advisor to the Surgeon General, U.S. Army and Corps Chief of the Army Medical Department Hospital Corps. He later joined the Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center and was promoted to the chief of staff, where he served until his retirement in 2017. He has chaired the Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs since 2015.
  • Stephen Campanella: Drafted into the Army on his 21st birthday, he was assigned to Company C 4/3, 11th Light Infantry Brigade stationed out of Duc Pho, Vietnam. In May 1969, Campanella was wounded. He was reassigned to American Division Headquarters in Chu Lai as the protocol driver for the chief of staff. He was then assigned as the personal driver, and later as the personal enlisted aide, for Brigadier General Edwin L. “Spec” Powell. He received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and an Army Commendation. He now lives in Rockville.
  • Fred Cherry, Sr.: The retired Air Force Colonel lived in Silver Spring until his death at age 87 in 2016. On Oct. 25, 1965, his F-105 Thunderchief fighter bomber was shot down over North Vietnam. He became the first black officer to become a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He spent seven years as a POW before being released on Feb. 12, 1973. He retired from the Air Force in 1981, with his last assignment at the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was awarded the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, the Meritorious Service Metal and the Outstanding Service to the Community Award from the Tuskegee Airmen.
  • Michael Cronin: A U.S. Navy pilot, he flew his first mission from the aircraft carrier Midway in May 1965. After two tours of duty and 175 missions, he was shot down over North Vietnam on Jan. 13, 1967. He was captured and held in captivity for six years and two months, finally released on March 4, 1973. He later served as a Navy flight instructor. The current North Potomac resident was awarded two Silver Star medals, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Bronze Star medals, 15 air medals, two Purple Heart medals, two Navy Commendation medals, two Navy Unit Commendations and the Prisoner of War medal.
  • Elwood Gray, Jr.: The Silver Spring resident served in Vietnam in the 101st Airborne Division from 1962-65. He went on to serve as pastor of Peace in the Valley Baptist Church, as president of the Black Ministers Conference of Montgomery County, as president of the National Coalition of Prison Ministries and as a member of the alumni at the Howard University School of Divinity. Dr. Gray is the editor of “The Messenger,” a newsletter published by the National Coalition of Prison Ministries.
  • William "Bill" Gray: The current Silver Spring resident was a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., before he was assigned to Vietnam. He was promoted to first lieutenant in the 4th Infantry Division in the Pleiku area of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his service. In 2009, he was appointed as the first chair of the newly formed Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs. He continues to serve as a member of the volunteer “Wall Washing Crew” at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
  • Otto “Greg” Hamilton: His assignments in the U.S. Navy in 1969-70 included an assignment on the USS Hickman County LST 825. His post-military career included 20 years as a printing services/mail desk supervisor for the Washington Post. In 1987, he was elected to the Takoma Park City Council. While in Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange and spent much of his life battling the health effects. He was a member of Rolling Thunder Maryland and for many years was among the volunteers who wash and maintain the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Mr. Hamilton died in 2012.
  • Arthur Holmes, Jr.: An Olney resident, Major General Holmes served almost four decades in the U.S. Army. A highly distinguished officer, the awards and decorations he earned included the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal. He served in Vietnam in 1971. In 1991, he was inducted into the 1999 Ordinance Corps Hall of Fame. Major General Holmes later served for seven years on the Montgomery County Planning Board. For 10 years, he was director of the County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation.
  • John “Jay” Kenney: He served in the Army during the Vietnam Era from September 1972 to December 1974. During this time, he was assigned to the Agency for Aviation Safety at Fort Rucker, Al., as a research psychologist. He opposed the war as unjust, but was drafted and took the oath to serve. In civilian life, he worked for the Montgomery County Government for nearly 30 years, including 25 years as chief of Aging and Disability Services. He was active in the Catholic Youth Organization, Special Olympics for Army dependents and the local community.  He now lives in Rockville.
  • Isiah Leggett: The former three-term Montgomery County Executive and current Burtonsville resident served as a captain in the Army, including an assignment in Vietnam in 1969. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He was the first African American to be elected to the Montgomery County Council, serving four terms starting in 1986. His colleagues elected him Council President three times. He introduced legislation that created the Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs in 2008 and he provided leadership for the dedication of the County’s Vietnam War Memorial in May 2018.
  • Jane McCarthy: She joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1968 while attending the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing. At age 22, she was sent to the 95th Evacuation Hospital in DaNang, South Vietnam, where she worked in the pre-operative and receiving area as a triage nurse. Captain McCarthy came home radicalized, joining Vietnam Veterans Against the War in college and went to protests. Her later work in nursing led her to return to school to earn a PhD in Physiology. The current Olney resident was the first woman veteran to serve on the Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs.
  • Charles McGee: Brigadier General McGee, who turned 100 in December and lives in Bethesda, is a veteran of three wars—flying a total of 409 combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He is the oldest living member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Brigadier General McGee has been recognized for his service with awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 25 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Congressional Gold Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Hellenic Republic World War II Commemorative Medal. He is a member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
  • Wayne Miller: Soon after graduating from Einstein High School in 1968, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. On July 4, 1969, he was on patrol in Quang Nam Province when his platoon was caught in a mortar barrage. His left leg was severed, his right leg and hand nearly lost, he was peppered with shrapnel wounds and temporarily paralyzed from the neck down. After six months in military hospitals he was honorably discharged. He received a Purple Heart, and ever since, has devoted much of his life to helping other veterans. He received the 1983 Vietnam Veteran of the Year Award from the Vietnam Veterans Civic Council of Washington. He joined the staff of the Veterans Center in Silver Spring in 1989 and later became the center’s director. The Silver Spring resident currently is vice-chair of the Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs.
  • Thomas Murphy: A PFC in the 25th Infantry Division, he enlisted in June 1968, soon after the Tet Offensive. In June 1969, his unit was on patrol close to the Cambodian border. A major battle erupted at Fire Base Washington about two miles away as two North Vietnam regiments attacked a much smaller American company. While searching the area, a NVA soldier jumped from behind a tree with an AK-47. “I had an M-16,” Murphy said. “He shot me and I shot him. I lived and he died.” Murphy, who suffered a serious chest wound, was awarded a Purple Heart. He later became a Rockville attorney and eventually became the only Vietnam veteran to be elected president of the Bar Association of Montgomery County and the Maryland State Bar Association
  •  Bob Norton: The current Derwood resident enlisted in the Army in 1966 and was deployed to Vietnam in 1968 as a civil affairs platoon leader attached to the S-5 of the 196th Infantry Brigade in I Corps. After completing his tour of duty in 1969, he transferred to the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1978, Norton volunteered for active duty on the Army staff. He retired at the rank of colonel in 1995 with 28 total years of service. Norton then joined the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) as lead advocate for military reserve, veterans’ benefits and health care issues. He helped lead efforts supporting historic Post 9/11 GI Bill legislation; the military health care (TRICARE) for the National Guard and Reserve; and legislation to authorize new GI Bill benefits for surviving spouses of fallen military members.
  • Lawrence Stark: A Navy civil service employee working in Vietnam, he was in the city of Huế in the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 1968, when a division-sized force of the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong launched a coordinated attack. After fighting off the attacks for two days with little ammunition, Stark and another Department of Defense civilian employee were captured. He was held captive for five and a half years. He was released on March 5, 1973. In 2010, Stark, now a Bethesda resident, was awarded Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medals.
  • Michael Subin: He served in the Navy during the Vietnam Era. After enlisting in the Naval Reserve in April 1970, he served on the USS Shreveport. He was the ship’s boatswain, combat information center officer, nuclear weapons officer, intelligence officer and squadron boat group commander. He also served as an underway officer of the deck (fleet) and command duty officer. He served in Operation Desert Shield in 1992. He retired in 2003 with the rank of captain. He was elected to the Montgomery County Council in 1986 and served five terms. During his tenure, Subin, who is now a Silver Spring resident, was elected by his peers to serve three terms as Council President.
  • Hubert Clifford Walker, Jr.: He arrived in Thailand in 1967 and began flying combat missions for the 41st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron. He was shot down six weeks later on Jan. 14, 1968. He and three others were immediately captured. They were transported separately to Hanoi, where civilians abused the men as they were paraded like trophies through towns and villages. In prison, they were beaten by guards during interrogations. Walker spent five years and two months in captivity and was released on March 5, 1973. Col. Walker, who received a Silver Star for gallantry, continued his career in the U.S. Air Force upon his return. He now resides in North Bethesda.
  • Michael Walsh: The Good Counsel High School graduate was drafted into the Army in 1966 and served as a Specialist E-4. During his 1967-68 assignment in Vietnam, he worked on a boat that ferried supplies on the Mekong River—often under fire. Upon returning home, he worked as a teacher in Montgomery County for nearly 30 years. When he retired in 2009, he embarked on a photographic pilgrimage to visit Vietnam War memorials across the U.S. His goal was to get photos of memorials in all 50 states. The current Germantown resident has a blog (A Means to Heal) that features nearly 800 memorials photographed in the last eight years.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s thoughts on helping veterans and the profiles of these veterans can be found at https://tinyurl.com/rayyavu.

To learn more about the Montgomery Commission on Veterans Affairs, go to https://tinyurl.com/yxyfdcoc.


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Release ID: 20-069
Media Contact: Neil H. Greenberger 240-777-6532