Highland Park South dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello recently joined Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch and his family to dedicate and rename a portion of Highland Park in honor of the Vietnam War veteran.
The area, commonly referred to as Highland Park South, encompasses the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and future location of the War on Terror Memorial. The measure to rename this portion of Highland Park was passed by the Monroe County Legislature at its March meeting.
“Gary Beikirch is an American hero in every sense,” Bello said. “His selfless acts on behalf of our country will live on forever in the hearts and minds of our community, and all of those who have gotten to know Gary throughout his life.
“Renaming this portion of Highland Park, between the Vietnam Memorial and the future War on Terror Memorial, in Gary’s honor is a perfect tribute to this incredible man who has dedicated his life to Monroe County and the U.S. I hope that people will take time to hear Gary’s story and learn about the sacrifice he made after visiting this newly renamed section of Highland Park.”
Beikirch served as a medic with Company B of the 5th Special Forces Group, where he was stationed at Dak Seang Camp with Montagnard villagers and fighters in Kon Tum. On April 1, 1970, the camp was attacked by a larger North Vietnamese force. Beikirch fought back until he learned an American was wounded and in an exposed position. While moving through enemy fire to reach him, a piece of shrapnel struck Beikirch in the back and partially paralyzed him.
For the remainder of the battle, Beikirch was carried from position to position to administer aid to fellow wounded allies. Later, while giving a Montagnard fighter resuscitative mouth-to-mouth, he was wounded in the side and shot in the stomach. Beikirch continued to fire his weapon and provide medical care from his stretcher until he was evacuated by helicopter. He would spend the next six months recovering at Valley Forge Medical Center.
Beikirch received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Dak Seang on Oct. 15, 1973. He also was presented with the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
In his post-military life, Beikirch attended White Mountain Seminary in New Hampshire and became a pastor. He received a master’s degree in counseling and finished his professional career as a guidance counselor at Greece Arcadia Middle School.
“It is truly humbling to think a part of this park will have my name, but my hope is that when others visit they will see more than just one name,” Beikirch said. “My hope is that they will see the 280 names on the Vietnam Memorial. My hope is that they will see the men and women from our community who served during the War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. May they see the names and faces of friends and family who, through the years, defend our nation and our freedom.
“It is also my hope that as people enter this park and walk among the heroes that are honored and remembered here that they will hear each hero say to them, ‘There is a different way to live your life. Live your life believing that there is something greater in life than me. Live your life caring for others, loving others. Greater love has no one than this ... that you would lay down your life for your friend.’”