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12-13-05, 06:45 AM #1
Retired Marine uses time to honor veterans, needy
Posted: Monday, Dec 12, 2005 - 07:23:47 pm CST
Ron Saucier - Retired Marine uses time to honor veterans, needy
By BOB WATSON
For the first time last month, during the closing ceremonies for The Moving Wall's visit to Jefferson City, the general public heard Ron Saucier perform two songs he wrote as a tribute to all veterans -- especially those who served in the Vietnam War.
When he reached the West Coast in April 1967 after his own 13-month experience in southeast Asia, Saucier experienced "a total shock" at the way veterans returning from Vietnam were treated.
"I don't remember being welcomed, anywhere," Saucier recalled last week. "You were either ignored -- that was the best of the best treatment -- or you were vilified."
Saucier had enlisted in the Marines in October 1965, about five months after graduating from Jefferson City High School.
He got married while on leave in December, then "went back to Camp Pendleton and then to Vietnam. ... We had 10 days together, and then were separated for 15 months."
The result of being ignored or yelled at and spat upon after serving in the controversial war was really rough for "a lot of guys," Saucier said. "What I did, basically, was climb into a shell and I refused to talk about it."
That changed shortly after the Marine Corps League's Central Missouri Detachment was reactivated in 1987.
"I started getting involved in that, it helped a lot," Saucier said, "because finally there was somebody you could talk to, and somebody who made you feel accepted for the duty that you performed."
Saucier retired after 30 years work as a state government computer programmer. Now he works in the Cole County Collector's office, for long-time friend and fellow Marine, William "Skip" Rich.
"My life now is (mostly) golf, piddling in the garden and Marine Corps League stuff," he said. "And I'm starting to do some more song writing, and (retirement) gives me time to work on all that stuff."
This time of year, that "stuff" includes helping collect and distribute toys in the League's national "Toys for Tots" program.
"We do barbecues and raise money for charities -- just whatever is needed," Saucier said.
Much of Saucier's work is focused on recognizing and honoring veterans -- and making sure that veterans of other wars don't experience the lack of respect felt by those who served in Vietnam.
"One of our priorities when we started up was, a lot of veterans were being buried without military honors," Saucier explained. "So we got people in uniform, we got our rifles and we practiced.
"And we've been doing it ever since. ... Anytime we get a call to do a military funeral, we're there."
Although he's been to Washington, D.C., only once, Saucier has helped four times with ceremonies for The Moving Wall, the half-size replica of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial that came to Jefferson City.
His singing for the closing ceremonies at the Capitol was an emotional realization of a dream.
"I had never really hoped to be able to actually do it at the wall," he said. "I've sung and played music, basically all my life.
"I hope that some of the songs I have written have touched people, and I just try to share an emotion. ... I feel like it's something that I can share with people, and maybe touch their lives a little bit, and make them think about the whole experience."
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