AUBURN — Steve Weldon, who served as a lance corporal in the U.S. Marines, felt he was representing both the living and the dead at a Veterans Day service in Auburn Saturday.
Weldon was in Operation Buffalo during the Vietnam War. He said 105 out of 120 members of his unit, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, nicknamed "The Walking Dead," were killed. Those fallen men were in his thoughts at a Veterans Day service at SS. Peter and John Episcopal Church in Auburn Saturday.
"I remember them every day — but more so on this day than others," Weldon said.
He said he acknowledges those men that died in the conflict didn't get to have the opportunities he has had, like seeing his children and grandchildren grow up. He feels he is able to represent those troops through talking about their trials.
He was one of several veterans present at the event. Auburn Mayor Michael Quill, who also served as a Marine, and city councilor Jimmy Giannettino, who was in the U.S. Air Force, were among the speakers at the church. Giannettino said his time in the service helped shape the person he is today.
A presentation, which included a musician playing the military bugle call "Taps" was played as the audience stood up from their seats.
Terry Winslow, former chief of the Auburn Fire Department, thanked the veterans that attended for their service. He said one can recognize who is a veteran because all of them "stand one inch taller as an American flag comes down."
If the veteran cannot stand, he said, there is still a sign that distinguishes them from the rest.
"There's a spark in their eye that tells you they are truly proud of the county they defended," Winslow said.