Saturday was the perfect day to celebrate in the town of Patriot.
Perfect weather. A big crowd. A fallen soldier honored.
In the only town in the nation named “Patriot” — it was a patriotic day to be certain.
The annual Patriot 4th of July celebration began at 11 a.m. with the parade which began at the boat landing and proceed through town. The color guard of the Vevay American Legion and the VFW led the parade; and following the colors as the family of Barry Brinegar — a Patriot native who was killed in 1971 while serving his country during the Vietnam War. A large contingent of Brinegar’s family was on hand for the parade and the ceremonies that followed.
There were firetrucks, decorated golf carts, ATVs and other vehicles; vintage autos; and lots of red, white, and blue. There was plenty of candy for the kids along the parade route; and volunteers sold special Patriot tee-shirts.
At the conclusion of the parade, the crowd made its way to the Patriot Memorial Park, where Mike Jones, pastor at Patriot Baptist Church, had the honor of presenting Lorraine McNeely — Barry Brinegar’s mother — with a special plaque commemorating the occasion.
Patriot native Ron Mitchell, a friend of Barry Brinegar and a fellow Vietnam War veteran, then took the microphone for some special comments and presentations.
“On behalf of the citizens of Patriot, the veterans, and especially the Vietnam veterans of Patriot, it is my distinct pleasure to be here for this ceremony,” Mitchell said. “This brief presentation is about honoring Corporal Barry Lynn Brinegar and his ultimate sacrifice. Patriot was and is Barry’s hometown, and the place he chose to be buried.”
Mitchel continued with some background of Brinegar’s service.
“Corporal Brinegar left Switzerland County school and voluntarily joined the U.S. Army. He began his tour in Vietnam on July 13th,, 1970. He was assigned as a Tactical Wire Operations Specialist, and assigned to C Battery, 6th Battalion, 11th Artillery, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division,” Mitchell told the audience. “On February 8th, 1971, Barry was killed as the result of an explosive device in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. Quang Ngai is located in the southern part of I Corps Tactical Zone, and approximately 93 miles south of DaNang. Barry was posthumously promoted to Corporal, and his name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on panel 5 West, Line 86.”
As a part of his presentation, Mitchell then produced two challenge coins. He told the audience that the challenge coins in the military served as proof that a soldier was a member of a unit or served a specific tour of duty; and that early in the military the coins were used as security. Then Mitchell told the crowd than Brinegar’s family would receive two challenge coins as a part of the day’s honor ceremony.
The first challenge coin was presented to Lorraine McNeely by Jim Huff, who was also a graduate of Patriot High School and served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army and was wounded in action.
“The coin Jim will present is the Vietnam Army Veteran Coin,” Mitchell said. “On the front of the coin is written ‘Vietnam Army Veteran’ which is centered on the coin with the U.S. Army insignia over the color of yellow with red stripes, symbolizing the Vietnam Service Ribbon, which is awarded to members of the military who served in Vietnam. On the reverse side of the coin is the oath of enlistment that every member takes upon entering military service. Directly below the oath of enlistment is the United States flag.”
Mitchell then presented the second challenge coin to Lorraine McNeely, which is presented to the families of soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam.
“On the front of the second coin is a replica of the Three Servicemen Memorial which stands near the west entrance to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.,” Mitchell explained. “On the top, it reads ‘All Game Some’ and on the bottom it reads, ‘Some Gave All’. On the back of the coin, across the top is written ‘Always Remember’ and, on the bottom, ‘Never Forget’. In the middle of the back of the coin it reads, ‘In memory of the 58,479 Brothers and Sisters who never returned’. Just below the inscription reads, ‘Vietnam War: 1959-1975’.
After presenting the second coin, Mitchell gave way to State Representative Randy Frye, who told the crowd that it was his intention to introduce a resolution during the next session of the Indiana Legislature that would name the bridge that spans Wade Creek near Patriot in honor of Brinegar.
Mitchell closed his remarks with some poignant words about his fallen friend:
“Corporal Barry Lynn Brinegar was one of those who gave all,” Mitchell said. “Barry never got to hear ‘Thank you for your service’ on his return from Vietnam; so today, on behalf of the people of Patriot, thank you, Barry, for your service in Vietnam. This recognition is long overdue, but his selection as the Grand Marshal and the possible naming of the bridge over Wade Creek will ensure that his sacrifice will never be forgotten.”