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Council pays tribute to Vietnam KIAs

Mayor Jim Staff, center, is flanked by Bonnie Latino, left, and Ann Gordon, right

News Staff Writer

Atmore City Council, sitting two members short, welcomed a new land parcel into the upcoming municipal annexation, approved the alteration of city park tennis courts to accommodate another sport and approved the use of a city park for a June family event.
The council, with District 2’s Jerome Webster and Mayor Pro Tem Shawn Lassiter (District 4) unable to attend, also approved a proclamation honoring the last local serviceman to be killed in the Vietnam War and the other seven locals who also gave their lives in the conflict.
The proclamation, recognizing the 50th anniversary of the final pullout of American troops from the Southeast Asian country, was directed at SP5 James Rayford Gohagin, who was killed May 13, 1969, in the battle of Hamburger Hill, after he had completed his tour of duty but chose to stay behind in the war-torn country and help train incoming recruits.
Gohagin earned the National Defense Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, (which at that time was given for bravery during combat, two Bronze Stars, both with the V-device for Valor) and several other medals for his service.
The proclamation came at the request of the Escambia County High School Class of 1966. Bonnie Latino and Ann Gordon represented the class at the meeting.
Lassiter is scheduled to read the entire proclamation and present it to the Gohagin family during a special ceremony set for 2 p.m. this Saturday, May 13, at
McCullough Cemetery.
The decree also pays tribute to the area’s other soldiers who died in Vietnam: Cpl. Richard Benjamin; SP5 Jack Elliott Clemons; PFC Larry Eugene Gonzalez; SP4 James Matthew Kelly; PFC Allen Twiggs Merritt IV (better known as Allen Gandy); SGT Elmer Jack Taylor; and SP4 Larry Benjamin Thomas.
In other business, council members
*approved a resolution accepting a petition from an unidentified landowner to be a part of the annexation plan that has been passed in the Alabama Senate and is pending passage in the State House.
*approved the resurfacing of tennis courts at Houston Avery Park and Tom Byrne Park to include pickleball lines. The Houston Avery project will cost $17,133: the Tom Byrne project will cost $31,325 because the park has more courts.
*approved the use on June 13 of Tom Byrne Park for the Alabama Funeral Directors’ “We Are Family Community Day.” This is the second year for the event.