- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2005

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

We need your help. I represent the alumni of Chi Gamma Iota, the XGI fraternity of Penn State-Harrisburg. The alumni of Chi Gamma Iota are Vietnam-era veterans who attended college under the GI Bill. We have met with our new fraternity members, who are veterans of the Persian Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are in agreement.

Randall Shughart was not a member of our fraternity, but he was our brother as he was yours. Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart, U.S. Army, along with Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions above and beyond the call of duty on Oct. 3, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia. His story was featured in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.”

Randy Shughart was a 1976 graduate of Big Spring High School in Newville, Pa. For several years, Richard Chamberlain, a Korean War veteran, has been attempting to have the new Big Spring high school building named in honor of Shughart. The superintendent of schools, and the members of the school board have rejected every request.

In 2001, they stated they “could not support naming the new school building for one veteran when many graduates have served in the military.” Randy Shughart was only the fourth Medal of Honor recipient in all of central Pennsylvania in 140 years.

Sgt. Shaft, you gave your sight in Vietnam but you see things more clearly than this school superintendent who was able to avoid serving with you. We know you also have clout in Washington, so the members of Chi Gamma Iota are asking you to help us name the building in honor of Randall Shughart regardless of what the school board does or, for that matter, thinks.

Thank you for your service to our country, both in Vietnam and ever since. Respectfully, and semper fi.

Robert D. Ford

New Cumberland, Pa.

Dear Bob:

A large-caliber shot to the superintendent of schools and his fellow apparatchiks on the board for their failure to memorialize the name of a distinguished American hero, Randy Shughart.

I urge the Pennsylvania delegations to the House and Senate to help educate the superintendent and his minions as to the significance of bestowing the Medal of Honor. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Shaft notes

The National Memorial Day Parade in the District May 30 already is taking shape, as sponsors and veterans groups from across the country are pledging their support in this unique effort.

In 2004, an ad hoc association of veterans groups joined together to organize a “Parade Salute to World War II Veterans” on Independence Avenue. D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams served as grand marshal.

The three-hour parade proved so successful that the mayor expressed his hope that this would become a yearly event. The newly formed Washington, D.C., Memorial Day Committee accepted this challenge, and now, for the first time since World War II, a Memorial Day parade will again become an annual tradition in the nation’s capital.

On Memorial Day, the parade will step off at 9 a.m. Passing in front of the U.S. Capitol, it will proceed down Independence Avenue in a magnificent salute to America’s veterans and in honor of those who died in defense of our country from the American Revolution to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The National Memorial Day Parade will feature marching bands from more than 20 states and 150 other units with veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the liberation of Grenada, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also to be featured are color guards and marching units representing all of the military services, allied nations, military campaign organizations, and civic and service groups. Mr. Williams will again serve as grand marshal and a number of military and civilian notables are expected to participate. Also, as was the case last year, numerous veterans organizations have indicated their interest in participating.

The committee is actively seeking corporate and individual support for the parade. Sponsor benefits are available from James Roberts at 202/777-7272, Ext. 215. For an application to march in the parade, please contact Under the Sun Productions at 610/431-1121 or e-mail them at [email protected]

For more information, visit the Web site www.WorldWar2Parade.com.

Sarge oops

HR 34 introduced by Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, will change the name of the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps. A past column stated the bill would change the title of the secretary of the Navy. That will come later.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C., 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshft@bavf.org.

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