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Chester veteran honored with Gold Star Banner

Sam Williams
Staff Writer
7/21/2010

The Soaring Eagle Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers will present a Gold Star Banner to a Chester mother to honor her son who was killed in Vietnam in 1969.

Christine Boyd, president of the Blue Star Mothers in Lassen County, said a Gold Star Banner was never presented to the family of United States Marine Corps Private First Class Richard Elliot Huff, who was killed during a firefight in Quag Tri Province April 11, 1969.

Huff received a Bronze Star for his bravery during the battle.

Boyd will present the Gold Star Banner - signifying a veteran killed in action - to Huff's mother, Mary Lay, of Chester, at 7 p.m. Monday, July 19, at the Chester Veterans Memorial Hall.

The Blue Star Mothers organization was not very active in many parts of the country during the Vietnam era, Boyd said, but the group has enjoyed renewed interest since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I've always heard about this lady, Mary Lay, from Chester," Boyd said. "She never received a Gold Star Banner. Her son was a very heroic young man, a Marine who died at 20, the same age as my son.

"It means a lot to me to present this banner to her and to honor her son who was lost during the Vietnam War."

Huff was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal in 1969, "For heroic achievement in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam while serving as a Rifleman with Company E, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division."

According to a newspaper article from 1969, "Huff's platoon was conducting a search and destroy operation near a rock pile in Quag Tri Province when the Marines detected an enemy position. As his unit maneuvered to assault the objective, the Marines came under an intense volume of hostile small arms fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, Private First Class Huff fearlessly maneuvered across the fire-swept terrain toward the hostile position and delivered accurate, effective fire against the enemy, thereby enabling his platoon to gain fire superiority.

"During the ensuing firefight, PFC Huff was mortally wounded by hostile small arms fire. His heroic and timely actions inspired all who observed him and contributed significantly to the accomplishment of his unit's mission. PFC Huff's courage, aggressive fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country."

President Richard M. Nixon authorized the Bronze Star medal, and the accompanying proclamation was signed by Lieutenant General, United States Marine Corps, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific H. W. Buse Jr.

According to virtualwall.org, Huff began his tour in Vietnam Feb. 25, 1969. His name is inscribed on the Vietnam War Memorial at Panel 27W, Line 056.
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