Waynesboro High School Class of 1963 Remembers Fallen Classmate

From left Joyce Wilhide and John Smith, siblings of the late Marine Cpl. Paul R. Smith Jr. accept flowers in his memory from Sam Ankerbrandt, president of Waynesboro High School Class of 1963, as Paul Swope, pastor of Rouzerville Church of the Brethren and classmate Don Embly look on. PROVIDED PHOTO

Members of Waynesboro High School Class of 1963 paused to remember a fallen classmate as they gathered for their 60th reunion.

The group held a memorial service for Marine Cpl. Paul R. Smith Jr., who died March 6, 1967, in South Vietnam, Sept. 30, in Harbaugh Church Cemetery, Rouzerville.

“He and I were good friends in high school and we started college together at Penn State,” noted classmate Don Embly of Waynesboro. “Paul decided that college was not for him, and he dropped out.  He started working in the engineering department at Landis Machine Co., but Uncle Sam had other plans in mind for him, and Paul decided to enlist in the Marines. I tried to talk him out of it, but he wanted to be a Marine.” 

“I stayed in touch with him, and I received a letter one day … he was anxious to get home. As I read the letter, I was glad his tour of duty in Vietnam would soon be over,” added Embly. “But my glad feelings quickly turned to grief.  As I opened the door to our apartment, my wife was visibly upset and handed me the Record Herald. On the first page the headline said “Local Marine Killed In Action In Vietnam.”

Smith’s banner, part of Waynesboro’s Hometown Heroes banner program, which honor fallen military veterans or service members who are missing, will be flown in front of the American Legion, where the Class of 1963 reunion was held.

“I’ll never forget that day, when Main Street Waynesboro Inc. started asking for donations for banners to recognize our local veterans,” Embly said. “I was happy to pay the money and supply the picture for his banner.”

“Our reunion events culminated Saturday night with a dinner and time to reminisce about the time that has passed,” according to Embly. “During the evening we had a remembrance service for all the deceased classmates that have gone before us.”

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