Vietnam veteran joined by students to place flags at Marlow Cemetery

by Toni Hopper

Earl Lavey may not be as spry as he was when he served in the military during Vietnam War, but he still takes time each Memorial Day to pay his respects. A riding lawnmower served him well on Saturday as he and wife, Pat, added an American flag to each of the service members buried in Marlow Cemetery. Lavey, 75, has several health issues, said his wife.

“He served in the Army in Vietnam in the 82nd Airborne division,” she said.

When Tamela Heaton heard from her co-worker Mary Ritter about the Laveys’ efforts, she was quick to round up some students from Marlow, Bray-Doyle and Central High to help. That was on Thursday. Both Heaton and Ritter work at the Marlow Post Office. Ritter said Earl and Pat Lavey are on her mail route.

“When she told me, I said it would be an honor to come out and do this,” Heaton said. It was a few quick phone calls to get everyone together for the Saturday morning memorial honors to place the flags.

Most of the students were family and friends, but the idea was to show them the importance of community service and honor those who had served in the military. Those who came to help were Macy Heaton, 17, and Paizli Hines, 14, both of Marlow, Daniel Heaton and his daughter, Avyn Heaton, 8, of Edmond, Ace O’Daniel, 16, of Bray, Camdyn Hines, 11, of Marlow, Caden Heaton, 15, of Marlow, and Raley Heaton, 19, of Central High/Marlow, assisted by her father, Adam. Raley, a student at SWOSU, recently had knee surgery and was in a wheelchair but still wanted to help pay respects and add flags. Also, Kinley Scott, 14, of Central High and her mom, Dusty Scott helped with the memorial honors.

Many of the servicemen buried in the cemetery no longer have family alive or nearby.

Lavey is one of five remaining members of the American Legion Post #9. Pat said they desperately need younger service people to join.

“The bare minimum of members we can have is five. If we lose anyone, we’re in risk of losing our local chapter,” she said during a break from adding flags. A single requirement is needed – “they must have served overseas ‘preferably in wartime.’”

Pat said her husband has several health issues

Interested in joining the local American Legion chapter? Call Earl Lavey at 580-641-1250, or his wife, Pat, at 580-641-0150.

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