Sep 27 2021
Jonathan Delozier | Medina Gazette
YORK TWP. — On June 3, 1969, retired U.S. Army Col. David Taylor was wounded multiple times and almost perished in the Vietnam War.
The Medina resident served Sunday as keynote speaker for Rolling Thunder Inc. Ohio Chapter 8's third ceremony at Columbia Road's Gold Star Families Memorial, paying gratitude to Colorado native Gregory Scherf and others who saved his life on that fateful day and never made it back home.
"I had a hole in my left side from an enemy bullet," Taylor said. "My lower right leg was shattered by another enemy bullet. This young man (Scherf) ran through enemy fire to manage my leg. Then, in the true tradition of the American soldier, he sought to reassure me, his leader, that everything was going to be alright."
"At that moment he was struck in the head by an enemy bullet," he added. "His head slowly lowered to my feet and he died."
Since passage of a joint U.S. congressional resolution June 23, 1936, the last Sunday of September has been recognized as Gold Star Mother’s Day. President Barack Obama amended language in 2011 to include acknowledgement of all Gold Star family members.
York's Gold Star Families Memorial was built in 2016 thanks to roughly $140,000 in fundraising efforts from U.S. Air Force veteran and Medina County resident Mickey Kennedy.
Initial inspiration for York's memorial came after Kennedy became acquainted with 95-year-old veteran Hershel "Woody" Williams. Kennedy was eventually named a honorary board member of a foundation bearing Williams' namesake and tasked with spearheading the creation of a memorial in Medina County.
"Close by is state Route 18 running east and west," Taylor said. "Those traveling that road at this moment are not aware of our gathering here today, what we say here and what we feel at this moment. They are busy living their lives, working, spending family time, and attending to life's busy details. And that's OK. After all, why do soldiers make the sacrifices they make, if not so our citizens can live in peace."
Taylor now serves as president of Medina County Veterans Memorial Hall, 620 N. Broadway St., Medina.
Proceedings on Sunday also included prayer and benediction from Rolling Thunder Inc. chaplain Tom Dvorak, singing renditions of the national anthem and "God Bless America" by American Legion Post 202 member Ray Hewitt, and a rife volley from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5137.
Participants bowed their heads to close the ceremony as "Amazing Grace" was played.
"As you pass this way on Route 18 from time to time, stop at this location and take time to remember," Taylor said. "I will always remember the three men I lost on the third of June 1969. They are still painful memories etched in stone just like the words etched on this monument. Theirs are etched in cemeteries across this great country of ours."
According to the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, 87 Gold Star Family memorials have been built and dedicated across all 50 U.S. states and one territory with another 79 either being planned or under construction. Ohio plays host to eight of those sites.
Medina-based Rolling Thunder Inc. Ohio Chapter 8 was able to put on two Gold Star Family ceremonies in York before COVID-19-related gathering restrictions forced a postponement in 2020. However, members and additional helpers still held a clean-up day last fall on Columbia Road that attracted participants from as far away as Cleveland. Those on hand washed the memorial's structures, fixed loose stones and pulled a number of weeds.
"We want to keep getting the word out about (the memorial) and what we do as a group," Rolling Thunder Chapter 8 President Jim Johnston said. "We're reaching out on social media, but we're always looking for new ways to reach everyone, ways to find new people. I'm a new president so I'm just learning at this point. We're trying to get the younger people and younger veterans involved."
Rolling Thunder Inc. is looking for new members and additional help with yearly fundraising efforts. Meetings are held at noon on the second Sunday of every month at Medina VFW Post 5137, 3916 Pearl Road. Further information can be found at rollingthunderoh8.org and by calling (330) 723-0016.