The city and the county both held ceremonies May 29 to honor service members who died serving in the U.S. armed forces.
Locals wearing red, white and blue and carrying American flags gathered around the stone monuments at Heroes Memorial Park in Palm Coast and the Government Services Building in Bunnell May 29 to honor service members who died serving in the U.S. armed forces.
"It doesn't matter where you served, what you did, how long you were there or when you came home, we all took that same pledge: duty, honor, country. We served to bring peace and freedom to our country and the world. And maybe this hasn't been fulfilled, and maybe it never will be. But the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
— Edward Beier, American Legion Post 115
The Flagler County service at the Government Services Building honored the late Jonathan "Nat" Spicer, a Marine medic who died March 8, 1968, while serving as a stretcher bearer evacuating wounded soldiers in Vietnam.
Spicer, a graduate of Bunnell High School and the son of a traveling Methodist minister, realized after joining the service that his understanding of his faith was not compatible with taking a human life. He was offered a discharge as a conscientious objector, but declined it, and went into service as a medic.
He died aiding wounded men in the battle of Khe Sanh.
At the county ceremony, Randy Morris, one of Spicer's classmates, read aloud the text from the Navy Cross commendation that was awarded to Spicer after his death.
During the battle, it stated, Spicer, "completely disregarding his own safety," left a position of relative safety to load injured men onto helicopters as the battle intensified. When a round exploded a few feet from him, Spicer shielded a fellow Marine with his body.
"By his dauntless courage, unfaltering determination, and selfless devotion to duty at great risk, Pvt. Spicer upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service," the commendation concluded.
Spicer's family members laid a wreath at the Veterans Memorial in front of the Government Services Building.
At the city of Palm Coast's ceremony, Mayor Milissa Holland read aloud the names of Palm Coast residents who have died in service: Air Force Master Sgt. Michael George Heiser, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. John T. Schmidt III, Marine Corps Sgt. Zachary J. Walters, Army Sgt. Lukas T. Stanford, Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Stephen Martin O'Neill and Army specialist Raheem Tyson Heighter.
“A hero is a star, a champion, a bold and noble person who puts others before self,” Holland said. “There are so many heroes you can touch with your hands. But the heroes we honor today can only be touched with our hearts."