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Plaque dedicated to Berkeley County war dead is unveiled

May 28, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A bronze plaque with the names of 200 Berkeley County residents was the reason another 200 county residents gathered Monday morning at Martinsburg's War Memorial Park.

The plaque bears the names of county residents who perished in the wars the United States has fought in the 20th century - 41 in World War I, 120 in World War II, 24 in Korea and 14 in Vietnam. Another man, Marion E. Kees, died when a terrorist truck bomb struck a U.S. Marine barrack in Lebanon in 1983.

The morning's activities were typical of those in cities and towns across America that were paying homage to the nation's war dead - patriotic speeches, 21-gun salutes, "Taps." The ceremonies were particularly poignant nine months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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Warren McGraw of McDowell County, a justice on West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals gave the keynote address at the park ceremony.

McGraw spoke of Gene Arden Vance Jr., who grew up in Wyoming County, W.Va. Vance, 38, was a member of a Special Forces unit fighting in Afghanistan on May 19 when the Army vehicle he was riding in came under enemy fire.

Vance was buried in Morgantown, W.Va., Sunday with full military honors.

"We tend to forget what Memorial Day is about," McGraw said. "It's not about firing up the grill and cooking hamburgers and hot dogs or running off to the latest sale. It's about we as Americans honoring those who gave their lives for our freedom, to honor their contributions, to celebrate those who made it possible from the Revolutionary War to this very day.

"I'm reminded of young Gene Vance, our neighbor, a fellow West Virginian who gave that last full measure," he said.

One of the honors brought to the plaque Monday morning was for Joseph G. Kime III of Charles Town, W.Va. He died March 13, 1991, while fighting in Operation Desert Storm.

His parents, Joseph G. Kime Jr. and Trudy Kime, were led to the plaque for a moment of silence for their fallen son. His parents said they learned of their son's death from Joseph's brother, who was working for the Army in Germany.

"A chaplain told my brother and he called us," Kime said.

Joseph G. Kime III, an Army captain, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his mother said.

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