GARDINER, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 150 service members, veterans, and their families gathered at Gardiner Community Center cemetery in Gardiner, Wash. to honor a Medal of Honor recipient during a Veterans Day ceremony, Nov. 11.
The 44th annual memorial service honoring Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields, of Discovery Bay, Wash., was coordinated by the Navy Seabee Veterans of America (NSVA). During the ceremony, veterans presented Shields' grave site with an American flag and a bouquet of flowers.
Shields, who was attached to a Navy Seabee unit constructing an airstrip, was killed in action in June 1965, in Dong Xoai, Vietnam, when 1,500 Viet Cong troops overran the district capital.
One long-time resident paid his respects to Shields and shared a few words about why attending the ceremony was important to him.
"I am the neighbor of the Shields," said Klaus Hintermayr. "They live across the street from me, and I would not miss this (ceremony) for the world. I'm thankful for his service, very thankful."
Shields was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1966 by then-President Lyndon Johnson for 'conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty.'
"We have our movies of John Wayne, and that is like a legendary Seabee story, but Marvin Shields is the [real] legend of Seabees," said Construction Mechanic 2nd Class (SCW) Duane Husted, Construction Battalion Mobile Unit (CBMU) 303.
The ceremony brought to life a part of history for fellow Seabees and promoted unit cohesion.
"On our warfare boards we are tested on our knowledge of Marvin Shields, his commitment and his sacrifice," said Husted. "We get the honor to come up here every year and pay tribute and our respects to him. Our unit laid the headstone, and we grade the parking lot every year."
Husted also said he is honored to be able to pass that heritage onto future generations of Seabees.
"This is a really unique and cool thing for us to be able to come where the only Medal of Honor Seabee recipient is located," said Husted.
Joan Shields-Bennett, surviving wife of Shields, said she is grateful for the unit's respect toward her late husband.
"I appreciate the dedication they have and the honor they give Marvin; its humbling for me," said Bennett. "I feel such warmth because they are here."
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Northwest, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cnrnw/.