By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes
“Thank, honor and salute” is the theme for a three-night event that will focus on veterans on Fourth of July weekend at Volcanoes Stadium.
Volcanoes Stadium was selected in October 2013 by the Office of the Secretary of Defense as the Oregon site for the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Ceremonies will precede the three games the Volcanoes will play the Hillsboro Hops, and the biggest ceremony will be Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Night on Friday.
Gates will open at 5 p.m., and a very formal military ceremony at 6:06 p.m. will honor Bill Koho, a brother of former Mayor Dennis Koho of Keizer. Bill Koho, who joined the Marine Corps on a delayed enlistment in 1965, was killed in Vietnam in 1967 at age 19, less than a year after he finished high school. The Koho family, most of whom will be present, will be honored at home plate.
Another formal military ceremony will honor Marine Capt. Ernie Brace, who was the longest-serving prisoner of war in Vietnam at 7 years and 10 months. He was a cellmate John McCain, now a U.S. senator from Arizona.
Also honored will be Army Maj. Larry Deivert, the most decorated National Guardsman in Oregon history, who went on 578 combat missions in Vietnam. So will be 83 Vietnam veterans who received the Purple Heart.
One veteran who did not serve in Vietnam but will be on the field is the nation’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient, Army Cpl. Bob Maxwell, 93.
After the national anthem is sung, a drone from the Roswell Flight Center will fly from the first base dugout to the home plate umpire to get the game ball and then deliver it to the starting Volcano pitcher
Saturday night will be Oregon National Guard Appreciation Night, featuring the 41st Infantry Brigade, the Sunset Jungleers of McMinnville which started in 1917 and in World War II served at Biok in the South Pacific. Lt. Col. Leonard DeWitt, a World War II hero with the 42nd, will be honored.
An Honorable Warrior Ceremony will thank, honor and salute Brig. Gen. David Nudo, who served with the 42nd but died of natural causes. His family will be present.
Gates will open at 5 p.m. Saturday, with ceremonies starting at 5:55 p.m. with the landing of a helicopter.
Fireworks will follow the Friday and Saturday games.
Sunday night will be Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America Night. Many veterans who are paralyzed from war wounds will be honored. Gates will open at 4 p.m.