By Darlene Denstorff
Ascension Section editor
May 31, 2012
Gonzales — The Rev. Wayne Tally’s voice began to break as he recounted a life-changing day from his tour of duty in Vietnam as a member of the Air Force.
Tally, speaking during Monday’s Memorial Day program in Veterans Memorial Park, said he and two other airmen were lost in the jungles of Vietnam when an Army corporal who identified himself as Michael Murphy led them to the base camp.
“When we arrived and told our story, we were told, ‘We don’t have a Corporal Murphy, he died three months ago,’ ” Tally said.
“That experience changed my life,” Tally said.
After his tour of duty in Vietnam was complete, Tally said he and others did not receive “a warm welcome.”
“I told nobody I had been to Nam,” he said.
That battlefield experience led Tally to “preach the Gospel” and become a pastor at New River Baptist Church.
Years later, at a 1992 Southern Baptist Convention, Tally said he stood with other Vietnam veterans and was acknowledged for his service for the first time since he left Air Force in 1965.
“As I stood, a young man next to me shook my hand and said ‘thanks for your service.’ ” Tally said.
Tally asked that those attending “thank a veteran today ... thank them for their service; and veterans be proud of your service.”
Brigadier Gen. Stephen C. Dabadie, assistant adjutant general with the Louisiana Army National Guard, echoed Tally’s comments, saying “today it is our day to say thank you to those who have, for generations, paid the bill” for freedom.
Tally said that while Memorial Day services across the country are well-attended and numerous in the past few years, there was a time, not too long ago, when many thought of Memorial Day as a day off from work or a day to barbecue.
He said that all changed after Congress declared a National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day in 2000 and the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
He said that since terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, Americans have paid tribute to those military personnel “who sacrifice for our freedoms.”
The program, attended by more than 150 people, was hosted by the Ascension Parish Veterans Park Committee.