Fulton High School alumni honor veteran classmates
By Mike Steely
On a recent bright Saturday morning, more than 100 people attended a ceremony to honor and remember seven Fulton High School alumni who died during the Vietnam War. Two monuments now stand at the main entrance to Fulton High School thanks to the efforts of fellow veterans and FHS Class of 1968 alumni John Schlatter, Ronnie Collins, Fred Kitts and others.
Attendees were welcomed into the auditorium where Fulton alumni Rev. Felix Kerr delivered the invocation, Rev. Gerald McGinnis the benediction and Kensey Zimmerman sang the national anthem. The dedication of the monuments had been postponed for more than a year because of the pandemic. One monument honors all Fulton High School veterans and the other honors the seven former students killed in the conflict: PFC Larry Grant Bradley, PFC Willie Fred Dail, Corporal Gerald Eugene King; Lieutenant Ronald Harold Knight; PFC Jerry Lynn Noe; PFC Gary Dean Smith; and Sergeant Alvin Eugene Wiles.
After reading a brief bio of each soldier, Kitts asked that any relatives of the fallen to stand and be recognized. Several families stood to the applause of the crowd.
Collins told the audience of the history of the effort to get the monuments.
“We are here to honor the Fulton family. If we don’t honor them who would? We don’t ever want to forget their names,” Collins said, adding that students will pass the monuments each day on their way into the building. He said that other Fulton alumni were asked to help fund the $5,000 cost yet about $8,500 was contributed. The additional funds went to lighting and landscaping around the monuments.
Principal Seth Smith played an important part in organizing the ceremony along with getting students involved and the JROTC members took part including the presentation of colors.
The Bridgewater Place, owned by alumnus Doug White, catered the reception which followed the ceremony.
Speaking of the school, the students and the former students, Collins said, “We did it for the Fulton family. We don’t ever want to forget these people.”