MEDINA — James Kaleta’s wife, Karen, said Monday her husband didn’t talk much about his Army service in Vietnam from 1967-69.
“But I know he was proud of it,” she said.
The Vietnam Veterans of America Medina County Chapter 385 participated in a dedication on Memorial Day that will help the community remember Kaleta’s contribution to his country.
His name was placed on a paver that was installed nearby the Medina County Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 246 Northland Drive, becoming the 21st person so honored.
Seven bricks bearing honorees’ names were dedicated during the annual ceremony led by Rick Pethtel, sergeant at arms for the Medina chapter. The other six were placed in a walkway area leading up to the monument.
Kaleta said her husband died of cancer Dec. 4, two weeks before his 70th birthday. The couple, who had no children, were married
42 years. Natives of Cleveland, the Kaletas moved to Medina County after his military service, and he worked more than 40 years for Pepsi-Cola. They lived 20 years in Medina and 21 years in Seville.
Jim Kulas and Chuck Heller of the Medina chapter assisted Monday in placing all the bricks.
Speaking before the dedications, Pethtel said, “May this small plot serve as a tribute.”
Another chapter member, Don Bratton, noted that the 33 Medina County residents who died in Vietnam service “were the first to step up when their nation needed them the most.”
The 33 names were read aloud to a crowd of about 100 people gathered for the ceremony, which included a rifle volley and the playing of taps.
“We remember their smiles, their laughter and their dreams,” Bratton said. “We know the courage they had.”
Bratton said anyone who served in Vietnam “knows the noise of battle and the separation from family. We will never forget. It’s up to us to educate the younger generation and honor their sacrifice.”
Contact Managing Editor Lawrence Pantages at (330) 721-4065 or email@example.com.