A member of the military presents an American flag to Sylvia Cable, whose brother USAF Maj. Robert Baker was killed in action in Vietnam in 1970. Cable lost another brother, Ralph Baker, who was killed in action in Korea in 1953. Both the Bakers and nine others who died in Vietnam or a result of the war were honored in Sanford Tuesday by the Fallen Veterans Project. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

A member of the military presents an American flag to Sylvia Cable, whose brother USAF Maj. Robert Baker was killed in action in Vietnam in 1970. Cable lost another brother, Ralph Baker, who was killed in action in Korea in 1953. Both the Bakers and nine others who died in Vietnam or a result of the war were honored in Sanford Tuesday by the Fallen Veterans Project. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SANFORD — They were young, most of them in their 20s, the 10 men from Sanford who died serving in Vietnam or stateside as a result of the war.

John Crystal of Sanford, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, looks at banners depicting fellow service members who were killed in action during a memorial ceremony at Sanford Veterans Memorial Gym in Sanford Tuesday. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

John Crystal of Sanford, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, looks at banners depicting fellow service members who were killed in action during a memorial ceremony at Sanford Veterans Memorial Gym in Sanford Tuesday. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

They were honored Tuesday, so folks would remember Robert Baker, William “Bobby” Batchelder, Paul Cyr, Kenneth Lockwood, John H. Cash Jr., Richard P. Glaude, David Alexander, Leo Lantagne, Michael Pickles and Maurice Shepard.

It was 42 years ago when the war in Vietman came to an end in 1975. It has been 47 years since Robert Baker’s helicopter crashed into a mountain in bad weather on Nov. 27, 1970.

At 40 years old, Baker, who was raised in Lebanon on Sanford’s border, was the oldest of Sanford’s 10 Vietnam casualties. And he was not the only one in his family to make the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country — his older brother Ralph was killed in the Korean War in 1953.

On Tuesday, as Sanford Junior High School band and chorus members made new memories and sparked existing ones in song and sound, the audience paused in a special remembrance. Two active duty military members solemnly displayed an American flag, folded the nation’s banner of stars and stripes in the age-old tradition and presented it to the Baker’s sister, Sylvia Cable.

It was a moment Cable will remember — as she will the entire ceremony, from the youthful voices raised in a sweet version of “Ballad of the Green Berets”, or in a special tribute to her brother, Robert, in a piece composed by students.

“I appreciate so much what the children have done,”  she said.

Rose Goodrich walked to the morning ceremony  — another was held Tuesday evening — and paused in front of the banner of David Alexander.

“He was one of my favorites,” said Goodrich, who worked with Alexander, who was in high school at the time, in one of Sanford’s shoe shops. Goodrich was a hand sewer, and remembers Alexander gave her a small knife, to make cutting the threads easier. Later, she worked at W. T. Grant’s, when the store was on Main Street. Alexander came in one day. It was the last day she would see him. He told her he was leaving to begin his military duty the following day.

Alexander was killed in action on Dec. 16, 1968.

“This is important to remember,” said Cynthia Laprise. who went to school with Bobby Batchelder and Richard Glaude.

Tuesday’s ceremonies were part of the Fallen Veteran’s Project, which has produced remembrances in conjunction with Sanford schools honoring local veterans who died in World War II and Korea — and now Vietnam. Joe Doiron, who has headed the project said World War I will be next.

But Tuesday belonged to Vietnam — and the students who worked for months to get it just right, whether they were singing in the chorus, or like Lauren Fink, taking on some other part of the project. Fink interviewed Allan Carpenter, a Sanford native and  Navy pilot shot down over the Haiphong region of North Vietnam on Nov. 1, 1966.

Carpenter was held as a prisoner of war until March 4, 1973.

Excerpts from the interview video were played for the audience, like Carpenter’s recollection of the clink of keys, and the fear that the guard would stop at his cell, that the guard was coming for him.

He talked about what kept him going for all those years.

“You know your family loves and supports you; lacking that, you wither and die,” he told Fink.

There was his recollection of being called a baby killer, here in his hometown.

“That was hard to take,” said Carpenter.

And there was the parade of cars from the airport to Springvale upon his return. Carpenter said he was surprised so many turned out — when not long before, he had been “kicked around and spit at,” he said in the videotaped interview.

Among those remembering his own war experience as he gazed at the banners of Sanford’s 10 who were lost was John Crystal, who was stationed with the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Constellation in Vietnam in 1967, where he maintained aircraft.

“Most of us were there at the same time,” he noted as he gazed at the forever-young faces. “It was a miracle anyone got out.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

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