Family of Marshalltown soldier killed in Vietnam honored during Gold Star ceremony
It’s been 50 years since the beginning of one of America’s most controversial, and deadly, armed conflicts, and local Vietnam veterans are being honored for their service.
“Our program today is to honor those family members whose loved one gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War … this is called the Gold Star Program,” said Steve Storjohann of American Legion Post 46 during a ceremony Tuesday to honor the widow of U.S. Army vet William Russell “Bill” McKibben.
“Today we honor June McKibben-Ray, wife, and Kelly McKibben-Lindeman, daughter, of William Russell McKibben, U.S. Army, who gave his life for his country on April 25, 1970 in Vietnam,” Storjohann said.
McKibben’s widow and daughter were each presented with a gold star pin and sticker in recognition of their fallen family member. Two of McKibben’s grandchildren, Gracie and Asher, were in attendance for the ceremony as well.
After the ceremony, the family and gathered audience made their way outside for an American Legion-VFW Honor Guard 21-gun salute and a performance of taps. Legion and VFW member Laurel Phipps presented the family with a folded American flag.
“Some gave some, some gave all,” he said, holding the flag to June. “He gave all.”
McKibben-Ray said the ceremony was powerful.
“It surpassed my expectation of what was going to happen,” she said. “It was a total honor to be here.”
McKibben-Lindeman said it was good to see her father get the ceremony he always deserved.
“It’s nice to see that he was finally honored the way he should’ve been …when veterans came back, they weren’t honored at that time.” she said. “The fact that they searched our family out to honor him was huge for our family.”
She never knew her father.
Another Gold Star ceremony is set for 1 p.m. Sunday, June 4 at American Legion Post 46. Interested veterans and families are encouraged to contact Post Commander Randy Kessler at firstname.lastname@example.org or Virginia Johnson at 641-474-2300 at least 60 days before the ceremony.