Veterans organization honors West Michigan soldier killed in Vietnam

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KENTWOOD, Mich. — The American Veterans Post 23 in Kentwood hosted a special ceremony Sunday afternoon for West Michigan native Rick Medaris. Medaris was a graduate of Godwin High School who lost his life during the war in Vietnam.

Staff Sergeant Rick Medaris and with six other soldiers went missing in action when their helicopter crashed in South Vietnam in 1969. His remains were found and returned nearly four years later.

On Sunday, local veterans honored that sacrifice and made sure SSgt. Medaris' family received a special thank you.

Two days after National POW/MIA Recognition Day, local veterans said they wanted to do their part to make sure soldiers like Medaris are not forgotten.

"It's to remember those that are still missing, those that never came home, prisoners of war, men who have fallen and those who have gave the ultimate sacrifice for us," said Jeff Norman, post commander.

In November 1969, a helicopter carrying 20-year old SSgt. Rick Medaris and six other soldiers crashed in the Khanh Hoa Province in South Vietnam, less than a year after landing in country. The soldiers were listed as missing in action until their remains were located and returned to the United States in July of 1973.

Medaris now rests in the Georgetown Township Cemetery in Hudsonville, but not everyone has returned home.

"A lot of people don't know there are still people missing," Norman said. "Every war has a theater, has a conflict and unfortunately they all have MIA's and POW's."

The AMVET Post 23 honored Medaris with a special ceremony, a local boy scout troop presented the colors. As for Medaris' family, they were presented with a plaque. It's a small gesture, but one that keeps Rick's memory alive.

This is the first ceremony the American Veterans Post in Kentwood has held honoring a fallen soldier, but they plan on remembering a different soldier every year from now on.

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