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Gold Star families honored for sacrifices in NC ceremony

By MICHAEL FUTCH | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: September 1, 2018

(Tribune News Service) — The families of two Vietnam War-era soldiers killed in action were recognized at a special Friday ceremony, and by coincidence, they learned that their loved ones were tied to the same Army Special Forces unit and line of combat duty.

Over a half-century later, the memories and emotional toil remain raw.

Sgt. 1st Class David Stewart Boyd and Master Sgt. Robert Allen Anspach, who worked on the same airboats in Southeast Asia with the 5th Special Forces Group, were separated by a year.

Boyd was killed on Nov. 14, 1966, 10 days before he was scheduled to return home. He was buried a week later, on the birthday of his wife, Barbara, at Arlington National Cemetery.

The wives and immediate family members of these Green Berets were presented special lapel pins during a brief ceremony at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. Barbara Boyd received a Gold Star pin with the words "Service. Family. Sacrifice."

"The pin was created to place close to your heart," said Catherine Hodge, the museum program director.

Anspach's widow, Glenda, and other family members were presented POW/MIA pins – which bear the POW/MIA symbol and the words "You are not Forgotten" – created by the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War.

Along with the pins, the respective family members were given Gold Star flags and certificates from the Department of Defense.

Barbara Boyd has never remarried.

"I think it's really incredible they're finally thinking about us after 50 years," she said afterward. "That hurt never goes away."

Anspach was shot and killed on Sept. 11, 1967, during a reconnaissance mission when his airboat came under heavy fire. His remains have never been recovered. The drill sergeant is honored on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, his name etched into the polished black granite in Washington, D.C.

Besides his 81-year-old widow, Glenda Anspach, his family members in attendance included son, Greg, and daughters Sandy Anspach-Sportsman and Cindy Anspach Bachman.

"Cindy's father represents a different group of soldiers from the Vietnam War. The missing and unaccounted for," Hodge said during her address to the families and friends. "As of Aug. 24, 2018, 1,594 Americans remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. For their families, there is no grave to visit, nowhere to place a flag on Memorial or Veterans Day. No closure."

In a May 27 story on Robert Anspach in The Fayetteville Observer, Glenda Anspach said, "I probably think about him every day. Every other day. It's never far from you."

Hodge said a few years ago, the Department of Defense realized that the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War was approaching. The DOD recognized, too, that those veterans were not exactly welcomed home in the proper way. So the decision was made that it was not only time to make amends by warmly welcoming home those aging service members but to honor and acknowledge their sacrifices.

Along with that, the department decided, the nation needed to honor the families of the soldiers who did not make it home.

Pastor Jon Cone Sr., a chaplain on the Cumberland County Veterans Council, told the small audience that families of the fallen soldiers should be honored because they paid "the gravest price," allowing their loved ones to serve their country and lay down their lives for others.

"That's true love," he said.

Hodge, who was misty-eyed nearly throughout the ceremony, told those in attendance that they should remember everything that was said, and that the families and their loved ones are not forgotten.

"It's emotional for me," she said later, her face still red from crying. "I'll never understand what they go through."

Baucom was 8 years old when she last saw her father alive, while peering through a chain-link gate of the Fayetteville airport. Glenda Anspach had just turned 30.

"It just means a lot," an equally emotional Bachman said, "and to know the other lady here (Boyd), and they were almost connected. A freak thing, they were almost connected together. I'm just glad the Vietnam War guys are getting recognized."

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(c)2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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