By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
Vietnam Veteran Ralph Ryder was honored on Friday when American Legion Commander Ron Jones presented him with a proclamation in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War and a Vietnam Veteran lapel pin at Hickory Manor. Ryder was joined by his wife, Nancy, and veterans Billy Richards and John Robertson.
In observance of the anniversary of the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975), Vietnam Veterans are being recognized as a generation “that served with honor, and who left their families to serve bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved.”
The commemoration began on Memorial Day 2012 and will continue through Veterans Day 2025.
The symbolism on the pin is as follows: the eagle, which represents courage, honor and dedicated service to our Nation; the blue circle that signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice; the laurel wreath, representing honor and victory; stripes behind the eagle representing the American flag; six stars, which represent the six allies who served, sacrificed and fought alongside one another (the Commonwealth of Australia, the Kingdom of Thailand, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the Republic of the Philippines); and embossed on the back, which is closest to the heart of the wearer, “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.”
Ryder was born in Culpeper, Va., in 1939. He grew up in Culpeper and Madison, Va. He currently lives in Salem, Mo., after he and his wife moved here to be closer to family in 2007.
After volunteering with the Marines, he celebrated his 21st birthday in boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C.
Ryder served a four year-seven months extended tour of duty and received an honorable discharge and a Campaign Medal, among other honors, from the Marine Corps, in April 1966, leaving as a Sergeant.
As a heavy equipment operator, his service included tours in Okinawa, Vietnam and Puerto Rico. He served in Vietnam in 1964-65.
“There was artillery firing above me while I cleared the field of fire,” said Ryder.
“I was a tough old nut,” he finished with a smile. Ryder also suffers from a hearing disability that began with his service in the Marines.
As a civilian heavy equipment operator, Ryder went to work at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in 1968. Ironically his wife Nancy and he began their employment on the same day in 1968, although they did not meet at that time. They didn’t meet until 2003 via mutual friends. They married in 2006, after Ralph retired from NASA.
We extend our thanks to Ralph Ryder for his service to our country.
As a reminder to all, the proclamation states, “Throughout this Commemoration, let us strive to live up to their example by showing our Vietnam veterans, their families, and all who have served the fullest respect and support of a grateful Nation.”