The Aegis
Harford County

Living vets honored at Bel Air Memorial Gardens

A few dozen veterans and their families braved the crisp November wind Monday afternoon to attend the annual Veterans Day ceremonies held in honor of the Bel Air men and women who have put their lives at risk for the good of their country.

United States flags adorning the graves of fallen soldiers waved in the background as people gathered at the Bel Air Memorial Gardens for the observance hosted by American Legion Post 39.


Col. Dave Carey, retired from the U.S. Army, spoke to the crowd about his experience serving his country with the 29th combat aviation brigade.

Carey said he was deployed to Iraq in 2011, as the United States was negotiating the cap for the number of troops to be stationed in the area.


"Our status changed from day to day on whether we would be going to Iraq or Afghanistan or returning home," Carey said during his speech. "Soldiers had to continue to adjust to the new normal."

Carey said during his deployment he was in awe at the number of service members who were risking their lives daily working for the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

"I am truly humbled by the service members in Iraq," Carey said. "America has the best military because of its service members."

World War II liberator bomber pilot Leroy Shanklin and his wife, Virginia, were presented with a wreath of honor in memory of their late son, Roy Edward Shanklin, who sustained fatal injuries while serving in the 544th engineering company in Vietnam.

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The Vietnam veteran was just 19-years old when he was seriously injured in November 1967. He was released and flown back to the United States, where he died five months later.

"He had surgery once in Vietnam and in Japan," his mother said. "He came back in a comatose state."

The Bel Air couple, both 90, laid the wreath at the foot of the Capt. H. Merle Bailey memorial inside the garden. Their son's name is also listed Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

"We're really happy they have an affair like this to honor the veterans," Shanklin said after the ceremony. "The reason we honor people who serve is because they are the people who preserve the way of life the way we live it."


Ceremony organizer Walter "Wally" Muller, 71, who spent 37 years in the army, said the ceremony is important because it honors veterans while they are still living.

Muller, who served in Vietnam, said his aspirations many days were just to make it to see the age of 25.

"It gives us a feeling for those of us who have served to know how lucky we are we survived, especially us who went in combat," Muller said.