Two monuments to be dedicated for fallen and all alumni who served
Fulton High School alumni will host a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 2, to dedicate a monument for classmates who died in the Vietnam War. A second monument will honor all alumni who served in the armed forces.
The official ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. in the Fulton High School auditorium. Fulton alumni, their families, students and staff are encouraged to attend the ceremony. Veterans also are welcome, and the event is open to the public.
“For those of us who came of age in the 1960s, the Vietnam War was the defining event of our youth,” said John Schlatter, who was class president and graduated from Fulton High School in 1968. “We owe it to the classmates who gave their lives, and to their families, to see that their sacrifice is not forgotten.”
The seven former Fulton High School students who were killed in action were:
• Army PFC Larry Grant Bradley
• Marine Corps PFC Willie Fred Dail Jr.
• Marine Corps Cpl. Gerald Eugene King
• Air Force Lt. Ronald Harold Knight
• Army PFC Jerry Lynn Noe
• Army PFC Gary Dean Smith
• Army Sgt. Alvin Eugene Wiles
The two granite monuments will be placed outside near the front entrance of the school and will be unveiled as part of the ceremony. One monument will be inscribed with the names of the seven classmates who died in Vietnam.
John Schlatter, who now lives in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, spearheaded the memorial project with two other Class of 1968 graduates, Ronnie Collins and Fred Kitts of Knoxville. All three are veterans, and Kitts served in Vietnam.
Fulton High School alumni donated nearly every penny of the $5,000 needed for the project, minus one contribution of $25. “We wanted the alumni to be able to say, ‘We did this,’” Collins said.
The alumni even raised over $3,500. Donations came from approximately 62 alumni across the country, including Tennessee, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio and Florida. The East Tennessee Community Design Center served pro bono as financial agent for all donations. The extra funds are being used for electrical work and landscaping around the monuments and printing cost for ceremony programs.
Fulton High School Principal Seth Smith has been instrumental in planning the ceremony and getting current students involved. The high school students will oversee landscaping around the monuments, and JROTC members will participate in the ceremony.
Four additional Fulton High School alumni will be involved at the event. The invocation will be given by Rev. Felix Kerr and the benediction by Rev. Gerald McGinnis; the national anthem will be performed by Kensey Zimmerman; and Bridgewater Place, which is owned by Doug White, will cater a reception.
After the dedication ceremony and unveiling of the monuments, the reception will be held in the auditorium.