For Senoia resident Marshall Huckaby it was a matter of taking a stand. The Vietnam veteran joined countless other veterans in Washington, D.C. Oct. 8 to express their outrage and shame over the treatment received by the families of fallen soldiers at Dover Air Force Base during the recent government shutdown.
“When I learned that the families of those soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, Oct. 5 were having difficulty in meeting and securing the remains of their sons at Dover AFB due to the ‘government shutdown’ I was without words,” Huckaby said. “Then I became enraged, but my rage turned to shame. I guess someone forgot to tell these young men that they could not engage in combat, because the government was shut down.”
Regardless the nation’s fiscal issues, the fighting in other lands continued and some of the Americans fighting overseas died. The remains of soldiers are customarily returned to the U.S., with Dover as the point of entry.
“How do you tell a mother that the promised support to get her son’s remains could not be provided due to administrative roadblocks?,” Huckaby asked. “The website and Facebook pages I was on were full of angst about this. As combat veterans we contributed funds to those agencies that provide support to families in situations like this. But we wondered what else could we do.”
Huckaby’s question was soon answered when he learned of the protest scheduled for Oct. 13. Huckaby and his friend Bill Brantley of Miami with whom he served in Vietnam flew to Washington to be a part of the protest. What they found was, to say the least, disgusting.
“Like the World War II veterans days before, we found our access to the Lincoln Memorial blocked with metal barricades held together with steel cable,” Huckaby explained. “The larger the crowd got, the more the barricades became a symbol of disgust.”
Huckaby said calls came from those in attendance to remove the barricades from the memorial once the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance was completed and several speakers completed their remarks.
“There were calls to remove the barricades from the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and deliver them to the White House. The rally split into four separate groups to take care of those actions,” said Huckaby. “On the local news I heard that ‘these are paid Tea Party radicals.’ Well no one paid for me to be there. And because there was a Confederate flag there we were ‘just not accepting a black President.’ Well there were black veterans there. It seemed hard for them to understand that we were simply American veterans who take exception to veterans and their families being treated with such disrespect. For my part, this was not a partisan action, but veterans who finally decided to say something.”
Huckaby served in Vietnam in 1966-1967, 1968-1969 and 1970-1971 and retired in 1981 as First Sergeant with 20 years of service.