By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
More than 270 attended Memorial Day ceremonies Monday at the Tucumcari Municipal Cemetery and Logan Cemetery honoring the service of active duty and sacrifices of MIA/POWs and veterans living and deceased — while also marking the death of a Vietnam veteran.
“It is with a sad heart that I must report we lost a World War II veteran and friend this morning,” said Randy Bruhn, American Legion Post 77 chaplain.
Bruhn said Sonny Sellers, a resident of Logan and member of Post 77 died Monday morning. He said the Post Charter would be draped to mark Sellers’ passing.
The draping ceremony was one of the events held during Monday’s services. The names of 12 veterans were added to the memorial and were released as their names were read aloud.
“As long as we continue to gather and honor their memory they are never forgotten, said Logan Mayor David Babb.
A representative of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall’s office read a letter from the senator about Memorial Day.
“First and foremost, Memorial Day is a day of mourning,” Udall’s letter stated. “ We remember those who have been taken from us by the horrors of war and pause and reflect on their commitment and courage.”
Bobby Casados and Renee Rinestine each read a brief history about one of their family members who were among the 12 names added to the memorial.
“New Mexico gave many of their sons to the call of service and defense of liberty,” Casados said.
Casados read an account that was written by Alfred A. Haws, a survivor of the Bataan Death March.
In the account, Haws outlined how he lost his arm while working in a factory as a prisoner of war in Japan.
Graphic in nature, Haws included the account of not receiving proper medical treatment until eight hours later.
“I fastened my own tourniquet to stop the bleeding and the later treatment by the Japanese doctor was worse than that administered by myself,” Haws said.
Casados said that one out of nine soldiers in the Bataan Death March were from New Mexico. He said Haws is one of the countless veterans to whom everyone owes a debt of gratitude.
“Their service, sacrifices and hardships endured paid for the freedom we enjoy today,” Casados said.
Part of ceremony honored prisoners of war and missing service personnel still unaccounted for and continuing efforts for their release and the repatriation of their remains. A small table with a chair draped with the black POW/MIA banner paid tribute to prisoners and the missing.
“It is reserved to honor our missing comrades in arms,” Bruhn said. “The empty place represents military and civilian Americans still unaccounted for.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, state and local law enforcement officers played “Taps” and then conducted a 21-gun salute.
The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 77 provided free hamburgers and hot dogs to the public.
During the ceremony there was a celebration held to honor a recent high school graduate’s decision to enlist in the Air Force. Ryan Bruhn, who has just graduated from Logan Municipal School, was recognized for his decision to enlist; meanwhile, his parents, Jason and Norma Bruh, received Blue Star banners to honor their son’s active-duty service.
In Tucumcari, VFW Post 2528 held a Memorial Day ceremony with speeches from Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield, Mayor Pro Tem Robert Lumpkin and a representative from U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan’s office.
“It was a great ceremony with a high attendance by the community,” said Richard Martinez, Post 2528 commander.
Martinez said after the ceremony, a spaghetti meal prepared by the VFW Woman’s Auxiliary was served to the public. He said as part of the ceremony $2,000 in scholarships were given out to graduates and future seniors of House, Logan, San Jon and Tucumcari high schools.