Our View: Thank you, veterans for serving your country

By Sentinel Record Staff
This article was published November 11, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

We pause as a nation today to express our gratitude to those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country.

Thank you, for putting aside your careers and education to serve both at home and overseas.

Thank you, for the sacrifice of leaving your mothers, your fathers, your wives, your husbands, your children, in service to your country.

Thank you, for the brave resolve you have shown as you endured the wounds and the pain of combat.

Thank you, for your bravery on frozen fields, molten deserts, steamy jungles, enemy skies, and stormy seas.

Thank you.

Each year, the community's annual Veterans Day celebration, held at the Garland County Veterans Memorial and Military Park, holds special meaning, and this year is certainly no exception.

A member of Hot Springs' African-American community who was killed in action in Vietnam will have his name added to the memorial today.

Cleveland Evans attended Langston High School prior to enlisting in the Marines in 1965. He was classmates with Webb Community Center Executive Director Bill Watkins, who helped him reach the Evans family for today's memorial.

Cleveland Evans' brother, Jerry Evans, of Lawrence, Kan., told The Sentinel-Record last month that they grew up "close together" with their family on Walnut Street, off Whittington Avenue. He said his brother had a knack for drawing and auto mechanics.

"I remember one engine -- he bought it for $8 and rebuilt it to where it was a really good engine," Jerry Evans said. "He put it in his '56 Oldsmobile."

The Evans brothers enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War -- Cleveland joined the Marines immediately after graduating Langston in 1965, while Jerry joined the Army after graduating Langston in 1967. While Jerry served as an army cook, Cleveland followed his childhood passion and became a mechanic in the Marines.

Jerry Evans said he and his brother deployed to Vietnam in the fall of 1967. In March 1968, Cleveland Evans was stationed in the city of Phu Bai -- about 30 miles north of Jerry Evans, who was stationed in a village between his brother and the city of Da Nang.

"He had sent a letter to my commander -- but I never received the letter -- telling me to be ready for him coming," Jerry Evans told us last month.

Cleveland Evans boarded an Army helicopter with nine Army servicemen on a visit to Jerry Evans' outpost. While en route, the helicopter was shot down by North Vietnamese ground forces.

The helicopter was shot down near Camp Evans, a military base between Phu Bai and Jerry Evans' outpost. Jerry Evans said five of the passengers went to Camp Evans on foot while the other five -- one of whom was his brother -- stayed on the scene of the crash and waited for the others to return.

On March 26, 1968, the U.S. military designated Cleveland Evans as missing in action. To this day, his remains have never been found.

We hope his family can find some solace in the community's effort to honor him. It is a small repayment for the noble sacrifice he, and so many others, made in combat.

Editorial on 11/11/2017
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