A long overdue ‘thank you’

When Gary Lurvey returned home from serving his country in the Vietnam War in 1972, his welcome home was anything but welcome.

“I came back to the airport in California and all I heard was all kinds of language including ‘you’re a baby killer,'” Lurvey said. “It wasn’t nice. It made me question why I went over there.”

Vietnam War veterans served during a radical time in the history of the country, where protests for wars were directed at those who answered the call to serve. As a result, many veterans went back to their lives without any thanks or fanfare – but with plenty of backlash.

Marshalltown will be part of a long overdue “thank you” to Lurvey and his fellow Vietnam veterans during the 10 a.m. Oktemberfest parade Sept. 28.

The veterans will ride on two trailers in this year’s parade and parade visitors are asked to make signs, wave flags, and most importantly, thank them for their service.

The special recognition is being organized by Sandy Lurvey, a Marshalltown resident and Gary’s wife.

“We want people to bring anything to show appreciation for what they did,” Sandy Lurvey said. “They didn’t get the welcome home and it’s 38 years too late. But better late than never.”

Lurvey said even screams of support from parade visitors are welcome for these veterans.

Iowa Veterans Home resident and Vietnam War veteran Lyle Fox plans to take part in the parade.

“It makes me feel good to be honored,” Fox said. “We put our lives at stake. I had a buddy that came back in a box.”

Judy Dostal, social worker at IVH, said this event will help provide a bit of closure to these veterans whose time to be honored is overdue.

“As a social worker, I think it will be very healing,” Dostal said. “They are way overdue to be recognized.”

Those Vietnam veterans looking to take part in the parade, or anyone wishing to volunteer help, can call Sandy Lurvey at 641-753-6144.