Veteran Sees that Vietnam Memorials Leave their Mark

By Kris DiLorenzo

Former Sgt. Ronald Ymbras, a Vietnam veteran is on a mission. Wanting to ensure that current and future generations appreciate the tributes to his fellow combatants who lost their lives, he has self-published”Fallen Never Forgotten,” a compendium of Vietnam War memorials representing every state in the nation.

Ymbras, who opened his Ronny Reliables Cleaning Co in Ardsley in 1973 and relocated to Elmsford two years ago, has been traveling to veterans’ gatherings around the country, giving presentations on “Fallen Never Forgotten”. The 268-page hardcover book has been acquired by military organizations and institutions including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, N.Y. the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial at the PNC Banks Arts Center in Homdel, and the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.

A native of Yonkers, Ymbras joined the Army in 1966, when he was 18. He first attended mechanics school, and the “jump school”, training as a paratrooper. His first assignment was with the 82nd Airborne Division. In 1967 he was sent to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division, and in 1968 he returned to the U.S. Like other vets of that era, he did not receive a hero’s welcome. “When we returned home from the war we were treated like crap at the airports,” Ymbras states in the foreward to his book. “People called us baby killers and threw dog shit at us,” He also began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Meeting other veteransat the 1982 dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. energized him and soon Ymbras was involved with veterans’ organizations, speaking at high schools and church groups.




It was Ymbras’ son Matt, 33, who was the instigator behind “Fallen Never Forgotten.” For years he urged his father to put memorabilia from Vietnam- photos, newspaper clippings and other documents – into a book. “I used to keep a camera in my ammo pack,” the elder Ymbras told the Enterprise.

Then, on a road trip in May 2015 father and soncame across two places that happened to bear the names of two men in Ymkbras’ squad who had been killed by “friendly fire”. Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport in Westfield Mass,  a public/military airport reminded him of John Barnes; and Hubbard Park in Meriden, Conn reminded him ofGlen Hubbard. “Friendly fire is not very friendly,” Ymbras commented.

In seven months, Ymbras assembled photos and descriptions of a memorial from each state, Matt Ymbras, who attended the Intitute of Audio Research in New York City and owns Startup Magic, a company that designs websites, social media and internet advertising for its clients, helped his father found RU Airborne, set up that organization’s website and Facebook page, and release the book. RU Airborne has over 24,000 Facebook followers to date.

Ymbras explained his method of collecting information on memorials. “I found out about memorial sites through research on the internet, visiting seven sites – in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and the one in Washington DC. For photographs , he said, “on craigslist I offered $50 for 10 to 15 photos, but by January I was hiring professionals for between $30-$50 per photo. About 10 percent of the people donated their photos.”

For more detailed information Ymbras called curators and gravestone keepers at the memorials. “I was the schmoozer, ’cause I can speak military talk,” he said.




As a result, Ymbras gleaned background information about the memorials, such as who the landscape architects were, how the memorials were funded, who provided the sculpture, and what happened on dedication day. “We used mostly memorials that were updated,” Ymbras elaborated, “mostly state memorials, some national ones. We tried to blend an array of reasons for why and where. A lot were put up in the 80’s and 90’s and now have additions, like educational centers. Some are at rest stops. We’re still finding other ones.”

Selecting which memorial to feature for each state wasn’t easy, but aesthetic factors often determined his choice. For example, Vietnam Veterans Plaza on Water Street in Manhattan didn’t make it into the book. “It has skyscrapers, no trees, it’s dark; so we decided to use the one in Katonah instead,” Ymbras said. That memorial, at 2610 Route 35, has particular resonance for Ymbras, as he had lost three boyhood friends from nearby Yonkers. He was present at the memorial’s 1987 dedication, and carried the 101st Airborne flag in the parade that marked the occasion.

Fallen Never Forgotten, Reviewed by The VVA Veteran’s Marc Leepson

Fallen: Never Forgotten: Vietnam Memorials in the USA (RU Airborne Inc, 268 pp.) is a large-format book put together by the Father and Son team of Ronny Ymbras (1/502 101st ABN, RVN 67-68) and Matt Ymbras that devotes one chapter to a Vietnam Veterans memorial in each state alphabetically.

On how they decided on which memorials to choose Ronny states in the Foreword, “We sought to choose the state memorial, a memorial closer to people’s hearts, or a new memorial.”

Each state’s chapter contains professional photos of the memorial or monument, along with a brief profile and history, and an alphabetical listing of the names of those from that state who died in the Vietnam War.

The authors included iconic state memorials such as the unique and powerful Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort, which contains a sundial that casts it’s shadow on the names of each that state’s Vietnam War KIA on the anniversary of the death.  There is also the nine-acre Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Oregon, also known as the “Garden of Solace,” located on the grounds of an arboretum in Portland, which boasts a 1,200-foot walking path surrounded by high elevation pine trees.

Not to mention the iconic Angel Fire memorial in New Mexico and the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial which has a great Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center in Holmdel.

portland-vietnam-veterans-memorial

The “Garden of Solace” Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Ymbras’ also profiled lesser-known memorials, like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Lasdon Park in Katonah, Westchester County, New York. Ronny Ymbras says this memorial, “is personal for me. I was there for its dedication, I carried the 101st chapter flag in the parade and honored three guys I went to school and played ball with. May they rest in peace, Pete Mitchell, Peter Bushey, and Jeff Dodge.”

In conclusion, this coffee-table book is a top-quality tribute to American service personnel –living and dead—who served in the Vietnam War.

—Marc Leepson

To read the review on the VVA book review website click here, to order Fallen Never Forgotten: Vietnam Memorials in the USA see below…




‘Fallen Never Forgotten’ in Vietnam memorial book

It was the 60s. I wasn’t thinking about battle, I was playing ball and chasing women. A football injury kept me from track and field in college, so I began thinking about joining the service — not realizing this decision would affect the rest of my life…

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Why Vietnam vet compiled book of state memorials

Like so many of his fellow Nam vets, when paratrooper Ronny Ymbras returned to the states from Vietnam in 1968, he was “treated like crap” by the country he’d served.

Angry, hurt and bewildered by the lack of compassion and support shown to Vietnam veterans, Ymbras, who joined the Army not long after graduating from….

Continue reading in the Westchester Journal




Author of Fallen Never Forgotten Awarded with Medals 40 Years Later

Ronny Ymbras (right) was awarded with medals he earned 40 years prior. Here is the article, originally from the Poughkeepsie Journal (2010) that can no longer be found online.



HYDE PARK- The awarding of medals of valor to several local veterans years after they were in military uniforms has brought sense of closure to one.

Ronald James Ymbras of the Town of Poughkeepsie was one of the four veterans who were presented with numerous medals Saturday in a Veterans Day ceremony at the Henry A. Wallace Center at the Franklin D. Roosevelt museum and library. He was among the more than 150 veterans and family member who attended Dutchess’ fifth annual Veterans Appreciation Day.

 

County Executive William Steinhaus and Nelson Eddy Rivera, dir for of the county veterans service agency, presented the medals to the four veterans. “Our veterans are truly America’s greatest citizens,” Rivera said.

 

Ymbras was presented with two Purple Hearts for combat wounds he sustained in Vietnam in 1968, as well as the Bronze Star and a slew of other medals. He said that recur being the medals, as well as all the attention and standing ovation, was a big help in helping him deal with painful memories of combat.

 

“It’s great,” he said. “It’s a homecoming.”

 

Following the Pledge of Allegiance and signing of the national anthem, Rivera Asked the gathering to observe “a moment of remembrance for those we have lost since our last gathering.” Steinhaus said the appreciation day was the county’s way of thanking its residents who have defended the nation by serving in the military. He said his thoughts on Veterans Day, which his Thursday, always go back to his father, who served in World War II as a navy pilot.

 

“Honestly, what we’re here for is to give you a collective jug,” Steinhaus said. The delay in the four veterans receiving their medals years after combat was due in some cases to them leaving the military before they received them; or it was to replace medals they lost, Rivera said.

He said that’s the “legacy of America’s veterans” is something all its citizens share.

“The spirit of selflessness is what makes America a great and superior nation—the spirit of the American veteran,” Rivera said.

Kenny Costanzo, 80, of the Town of Poughkeepsie, was an Army engineer serving in Germany from 1952-54. He said he found Saturday’s ceremony moving.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s brings back a lot of memories.”

 



MEDAL RECIPIENTS
The for veterans presented Saturday with medals for their military service and valor in combat:

 

RICHARD JAMES IRELAND OF PINE PLANES: Serves in U.S. Army 1993-96 during the Persian Gulf War era. Awarded Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, another medal, two ribbons and an Army Lapel Button.

 

JASON PAUL HENNESSY OF POUGHKEEPSIE: Machinist’s Mate 2nd class in U.S. Navy. Servers 1998-2004 during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Awarded Navy Achievement Medal and Navy Good Conduct Medal and five others.

 

RONALD JAMES YMBRAS OF POUGHKEEPSIE: Sergeant in Army. Served 1966-69, including Vietnam War. Awarded Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts, Air Medal and six other medals and five citations.

 

FRANCIS WILLIAM LAMERE OF MILLERTON: Specialist 3rd class in Army. Served 1952-54, 1956-58, including Korean Conflict. Awarded Bronze Star, Purple Heart, three other medals and a badge.

Book of Vietnam memorials published by former Rockland vet and son

RU Airborne Inc., founded by 101st Airborne Division veteran Ron Ymbras and his son Matthew, recently published “Fallen Never Forgotten: Vietnam Memorials in the USA.” The glossy book features photos of Vietnam memorials in all 50 states, as well as a printed list of all those who didn’t come home…

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Review, Memorializing the Vietnam War

Fallen gives us an interesting, very attractive look at how communities, states, and the nation as a whole have memorialized the Vietnam War.

The book consists of a series of sections.  Fifty of these cover the states. For each state, a single memorial has been selected to help illustrate how the state commemorates the war and those of its citizens…

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