Vietnam veterans converge in Claremore for reunion, activities
Tom Fink Staff Writer
J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum was the starting point for a group of nearly 30 Vietnam veterans on Friday, as members of Company C, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry gathered in Claremore for a day of sight-seeing.
Escorted into town by members of the Claremore Police Department and the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department, the veterans were greeted by appreciative flag-wavers along Route 66 and in the city limits.
“We’re so appreciative for each of you and all you’ve given,” Claremore Mayor Mickey Perry told the veterans at a welcoming ceremony held at the Davis Museum. “Your generation signed up for the draft as you were supposed to. As young men, you received the notice — a notice that started with a greeting and a call which you answered.
“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is engraved with nearly a thousand Oklahomans who gave the ultimate sacrifice — several were from Rogers County, and some were even from Claremore,” he continued. “Your actions were done with honor and courage, and we thank you. It’s necessary to remember and honor the past to ensure our freedoms today and in the future.
“Thank you — thank you all for your service for our country,” he said. “Welcome to Claremore, and God bless you all.”
Rep. Marty Quinn, Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, Lee Keener and Cara Cowan Watts of the Cherokee Nation, and dignitaries also spoke to and in appreciation of the 31 veterans present, and those absent.
The outpouring of appreciation and goodwill was hardly lost on the former soldiers, 28 of whom are Purple Heart recipients.
“This has been incredible. I can’t tell you how much we’re all touched to see such a turnout of people thanking us for what we’ve given, wanting to shake our hands and tell us how much our service meant to them,” said veteran Terry Sorvik of Portland, Ore. “Just coming into town and getting the escort that we did — seeing people waving flags at us on our way in — I’ve still got knots in my stomach.”
Although the group hosted their reunion in Tulsa, they opted to spend Friday in Claremore, touring the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum, the OMA Museum, Rogers State University, the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, and other local sights.
“You all welcomed us to your town to thank us, but I have to say thank you all for helping a bunch of old vets feel remembered and appreciated,” said Jerry Jolly of Norman. “You have no idea how much that means to us.”