Deptford to honor late Vietnam vet at Buddy Powell Memorial

Resident Elmer ‘Buddy’ Powell was killed in action in 1966

The Sun. Otto Gollon of the Mantua VFW salutes the Buddy Powell Memorial after laying a wreath during the 2019 ceremony.

To kick off a day meant to honor the fallen men and women of America’s wars, Deptford will hold a memorial Sunday, May 28 at noon, for late Vietnam war vet Elmer “Buddy” Powell at his memorial in Oak Valley.

The memorial, located near Deptford Veterans Park in the area, serves as a memorial and tribute to the late veteran who was killed in action during the Vietnam War. He was from Oak Valley and attended Deptford High School, according to the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation.

- Advertisement -

In September of 1964, he enlisted in the U.S army while still in high school where he would eventually serve as a paratrooper and reach the rank of private first class (pfc). He would be sent to Vietnam in January of 1966.

The foundation was also able to obtain letters Powell had written to family and friends during his time in service, offering insight into a soldier’s life in Vietnam.

No one who has not been here can begin to imagine what it is like,” said one letter to his fiance, Lynda Carpenter. “The fighting over here is like no fighting ever before. You live from day to day. Learning new and better ways of how to kill. Then you stop and think. What the hell am I doing here? Why should I be doing this? Or is it right to kill? 

“Then you start to think of the ones you love back home. And the things you have. Then you start to realize what you are doing here. You are fighting to keep those loved ones and those things you have. And most everyone over here has the same reason for doing it. It is because he has a girl, or a wife, or a family who he loves very much.”

On May 6, 1966, Powell was killed in action during a combat operation. He was later posthumously awarded the bronze star for valor and the purple heart.

Though saddened by his death, his loved ones eventually became closer and eventually helped the township build a memorial dedicated to Powell’s life and service.

The ceremony will feature members of the Deptford Town Council and Mayor Paul Medany himself at the event.

“It is an honor to participate in the event and to honor Powell and all the men and women that have fought for this country,” said Medany. “We want to educate the youth on the sacrifices of our veterans. It’s important for them to realize that they mean for us.”

The service will last for a half an hour and be followed by a Memorial Day parade that starts at Oak Valley Fire House.

- Advertisment -