Final salute for hero, Gary Beikirch
[anvplayer video=”5082363″ station=”998131″]
HILTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — The local community is offering one final salute to an American hero.
Saturday morning, Greece offered a tribute that was hard to miss to Medal of Honor recipient, Gary Beikirch. The Greece native died last weekend of cancer at the age of 74.
"You now get to rest papa, I love you and miss you,” one of Beikirch’s grandchildren said.
"It’s said that these sword-shaped flowers were meant to pierce the heart of each recipient which is what my papa did when he spoke to anyone he knew,” another grandchild said.
A memorial procession took Beikirch up and down roads he once walked on. Loved ones, clenched the American flag to remember a war hero.
Beikirch joined the Army at age 19. He trained as a light weapons specialist and went through airborne school. Then, he became a medical specialist, deploying to Vietnam in 1969.
"That was Gary’s calling in life, he was devoted to reaching out to hid generation of Vietnam Veterans as well as the current generation of veterans who share the struggle to heal from the physical and emotional wounds of war he was a master at connecting with people,” Lt. Colonel Doug Herrmann said.
Herrmann, another Greece nativ, returned from Saudi Arabia to be at the funeral. He said he wanted to join the military because of Beikirch.
Those connections were bonded through stories of war. On April 1, 1970, the camp Beikirch was helping protect was under heavy fire by North Vietnamese forces. Beikirch bravely continued to help others who were hurt, even though he was partially paralyzed after being hit by shrapnel. He refused treatment and continued to save others before being shot in the stomach and taken by helicopter to recover.
"You are a warrior and have a knowledge about love, and about caring for others more than self, who will teach about loving others more than self, if not us who have fought and died because we loved another more than self,” another veteran speaker said.
Beikirch was buried at the White Haven Memorial Park in Pittsford. The procession on the way to that site included a drive by the Greece Arcadia Middle School where Beikirch was a counselor for many years.