Donald Singleton gets taken back to Vietnam this time of year.
He was a 20-year-old paratrooper with the 101st Airborne on May 18, 1967, when the man who saved his life was killed. That man, Spc. Dale Wayrynen, threw himself on a grenade to save Singleton and others.
Wayrynen was awarded the Medal of Honor. Singleton, who was wounded, became friends with his brother and mother. They’ve both passed away too, now. The memories are still there. A piece of paper fluttering from a car window can remind Singleton of a body tag that flew out of the helicopter that carried him and a number of bodies back to the rear 53 years ago.
Singleton is a constant presence at veterans events around the Coastal Empire, and his haunting “thousand-yard stare” and quiet presence inspires strangers to walk up and thank him for his service, to which he always responds, “Thank you.”
Thanks to the pandemic, it’s a safe bet most official Memorial Day observances in the area won’t take place in 2020, and cities such as Richmond Hill will instead be live streaming Fort Stewart’s virtual remembrance Monday on their own social media. The event, held at Warrior’s Walk, will be there for anyone with an internet connection and a smart phone or computer to watch.