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2 combat veterans will lead Memorial Day events in Middletown

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 5/22/19

Two decorated combat veterans — one from the Vietnam war and one still serving — will be front and center for Middletown’s annual Memorial Day parade and remembrance …

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2 combat veterans will lead Memorial Day events in Middletown

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Two decorated combat veterans — one from the Vietnam war and one still serving — will be front and center for Middletown’s annual Memorial Day parade and remembrance ceremony.

The grand marshal of the parade — starting 9 a.m. Monday — will be Ken Shaffer, a Londonderry Township resident who spent nearly a year in Vietnam as a Navy corpsman assigned to a U.S. Marine rifle company.

Keeping with annual tradition, immediately following the parade will be the Memorial Day ceremony at Union Street Cemetery. The guest speaker will be Patrick Devlin, a Navy chief petty officer who became a Navy SEAL in September 2007.

Devlin spent seven years on active duty in the SEAL teams with multiple deployments around the globe, according to his biography.

His 10 years of active Navy service ended in September 2014. Devlin continues serving today in the Reserves.

A Duncannon native, the 37-year old Devlin graduated from Penn State University with a political science degree in 2004. He then enlisted in the Navy, motivated to serve by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Devlin may be better known to area residents as one of three partners who own and operate Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works, which opened in the former Elks Building at Union and Emaus streets in 2016. He runs the daily manufacturing and production for the brewery and distillery.

Devlin’s awards include the Bronze Star with combat valor designation, the Purple Heart, and the Army Commendation Medal. He has three times been awarded the Navy Commendation Medal.

Shaffer, 70, was born in 1948 in a little town in then-West Germany to a German mother and an American soldier stationed with the post-World War II U.S. Army occupation forces.

He grew up in Chambersburg, graduating from Chambersburg Senior High School in 1966. He attended what was then Shippensburg State Teachers College for a year before enlisting in the Navy.

Ironically, Shaffer enlisted because he was hoping to avoid being drafted by the Army and being sent to Vietnam. He had applied for a student deferment from the war, but had not received it.

After boot camp and marrying his high school sweetheart Susan Cunningham while on leave, Shaffer was sent by the Navy to school to become a Navy hospital corpsman.

Shaffer says today what he didn’t know then was that a Navy corpsman “would end up with the Marines in combat” in Vietnam.

That’s where Shaffer found himself in November 1969, arriving in Da Nang. He spent most of the next year assigned as a corpsman to support Golf Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

The company was responsible for security of Da Nang air field. Shaffer also recalls being in the field with Golf Company in such areas as the Rock Pile, Tu Cau bridge, Arizona territory, Monkey Mountain, Marble Mountain, and Quang Tri and Quang Nam provinces.

The job of Shaffer and other Navy corpsmen was to provide emergency medical treatment for Marines injured in combat.

Twenty-two Navy corpsmen have been awarded the Medal of Honor, and corpsmen were among 639 enlisted Navy medical personnel killed in action in Vietnam, according to a website of the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines dedicated to Navy corpsmen.

“I am proud to say that I did my job to the best of my abilities and earned the respect of the Marines with whom I served and am proud to be called ‘Doc’ by those brave men,” Shaffer said in his biography.

Shaffer while in Vietnam earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon.

He returned to finish his four-year Navy enlistment as a petty officer in charge of the emergency room and other medical services at the Submarine Medical Center in Groton, Connecticut.

After leaving the Navy in 1971, he worked at military supply depots in Hampden Township and in New Cumberland for the Defense Logistics Agency. He retired in 2002.

“I am proud to have served our country and would do it all over again,” Shaffer said. His wife, Susan, will ride in the car with him as parade grand marshal.