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Memorial Day 2024: Trayer speaks of veterans' devotion and sacrifice


By Paula Pyzik Scott

Mother Nature attempted to upstage the 2024 Memorial Day ceremonies at Woodlawn Cemetery on May 27, but members of the Ream McElroy VFW Post 9381 and Agin Meyer American Legion Post 185 and their guests weren’t deterred by the strong winds.

The featured speaker, Randy Trayer, a Vietnam War veteran, retired Warrant Officer and former helicopter pilot, was unruffled when a page of his speech blew some 40 yards away. He later laughed and told the Icon that he’s learned to deal with life’s unpredictable moments.

Community members who gathered for the event pulled their chairs closer to the podium and the people who were speaking turned their vocal performances up a notch. VFW Commander Brian Clum emceed the event, inviting those present “to honor and remember those who have fought for our freedom and are no longer with us…. May the ceremonies of today deepen our reverence for our departed friends and comrades.”

An honor guard presented the colors, which streamed and snapped in the wind, after which the Ada High School band played the National Anthem. The band also played service songs for branches of the U.S. military, as well as taps.

Ada High School student Aidra Preston, who will be an Ada Buckeye Girls State representative this summer, read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and In Flanders Field, a poem written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.

Members of the VFW Auxiliary placed crosses with red poppies next to bronze markers that are part of the cemetery’s veterans monument: American Revolution (1775-1783), War of 1812 (1812-1815), Indian Wars (c. 1817-1898), Mexican War (1846-1848), Civil War (1861-1865), Spanish-American War (1898-1902), World War I (1917-1918), World War II (1941 –1945), Korean War (1950-1953), Vietnam War (1964-1975), Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), 2001-2021.   

Trayer, who was wounded while transporting troops to a fire base in the Vietnam War, was awarded the military order of the Purple Heart. He greeted his fellow veterans in the boisterous style of American Air Forces Radio announcer Adrian Cronauer: “GOOD AFTERNOON VIETNAM VETERANS!!!”

Trayer joined the Army in 1968 at the age of 17–with his mother’s consent– and began with basic training at Ft. Campbell, Ky, 101st Airborne Division. He expected to become an infantry soldier but, having been trained to fly airplanes, was soon given the opportunity to become a helicopter pilot. In Vietnam, Trayer flew UH-1 Iroquois (nicknamed Hueys) until he was wounded in 1970.

“We are here to honor the sacrifice of those men and women who defended our freedom,” he began. “Memorial Day is a solemn reminder of the bravery and selflessness of our fallen heroes, who have given their last full measure of devotion to our country.”

He continued, “We are also here to honor the families who have endured the pain and anguish of their loss.”

“We acknowledge the sacrifice of our veterans, who have borne the scars of war and continue to serve our nation in countless ways. Let us take a moment to reflect on the principles that have made our country great: freedom, justice, equality. Let us recommit ourselves to upholding these values and to ensure that the sacrifice of our fallen heroes is never forgotten.”