Marvin Setty Richard G Waldron Grand Marshals selected for West Union Fourth of July Parade Adams County, Maysville Vet team up to save injured dog Michael S Knauff Victor P Price Success builds from the bottom up Finalists named for 2017 Fair Queen Contest William Glenn DeWine, Reader Call For Tips in Rhoden Murder Investigation MHS principal to take superintendent post Peebles Skate Park now a reality 2017-18 Fur and Feather Ambassadors named Caley Grooms is Cattlemen’s Beef Ambassador Dr. Mueller leaving Health Department’s free clinic Hourglass Quilt Barn returning to Adams County Lung, Thornburg are First Team All-District selections North Adams hosts annual Boys Basketball Camps Walk-off winner Wanda Hill George D Johnson Life can be a juggling act My favorite thing to do on the farm Wolves in Adams County! Ronald L Wedmore Three lessons from Dad Donald D Morgan Wenstrup uninjured in Virginia shooting Portman staff to hold grant funding workshop Raymond E Applegate Keeping the Peebles tradition alive Back on the hardwood, local hoops squads compete in Monday Night League Seven county athletes recognized as All-SHAC Baseball honorees Stepping to the podium Lady Hounds host Youth Volleyball Camp Senior Profile: Bryan Young Junior Deputy Boot Camps kick off in Manchester Hayes pleads “not guilty” to 109 counts Six-year-old girl finds long-lost class ring Jefferson Alumni awards annual scholarships Paul Tate Jr Marcus I Cox Jewell Gill James M Hill Jr Jeffrey S Jones Samuel A Disher Jack Sterling BREAKING NEWS: Parents face charges after son overdoses on opiate License Hikes and Tall Turkey Tales Danger under every rock Reigning Miss Ohio USA will judge 2017 Adams County Fair Queen Pageant Gordley’s hoops career will continue at Mount St. Joseph Russell C Newman Kenneth C Thurman George Uebel Summer Reading Program underway Honor Flight carries local veteran to DC When rescuers become victims Passing the torch, West Union hosts week-long basketball camp for future Dragons SENIOR PROFILE: Sara Knechtly Terry L Powell Willie Shreffler James C Fitzpatrick Senior Profile: Austin Parks Six countians named to All-SHAC Softball squad Lady Indians get summer camp season underway Memorial Day services pay tribute to local veterans WUHS Steel Band will perform at Bogart’s SSCC announces Honors Lists for spring semester Peebles Elementary releases Honor Roll for final nine weeks West Union Elementary announces Honor Roll for fourth nine weeks Back to State! Mom calls daughter “living proof” seat belts save lives Rent-2-Own donation means new soccer scoreboard at WUHS NAHS student selected for Engineering Summer Camp Southern Hills Athletic Conferences honors Spring Sports athletes Senior Profile: Kailyn Boyd Madison Welch receives Riffle Scholarship Junior Achievement Volunteers visit county’s seventh graders Marcella J Abbott James Ratliff Gladys Davitz Harry G Shupert Memories on Memorial Day A soldier’s story, a family’s grief Thank You for your sacrifice Seaman community honors local veterans with special tribute Former PES teacher dies in tragic accident All County Senior Citizens Day celebrated Parks signs with SSCC Soccer Senior Profile: Lexie Bunn Jessie Rodgers Memorial Day services set for county Truly our greatest generation Bertha Lashley Maia Swartz Jessie Rodgers Errors spell the end of Devils’ baseball season Senior Profile: Carry Hayslip Lady Hounds’ season ends with tourney loss to Paint Valley

A soldier’s story, a family’s grief

The invisible scars of war remain decades after conflict end – 

By Patricia Beech – 

The loss of a loved one in war leaves a painful void in a family, even if that soldier dies in an unpopular war like Vietnam. The loss of a son or daughter was something many families from the Vietnam War era had to face.
Every evening Bill Rigdon and his eldest daughter, Judy (Dryden) would sit down to watch the world news. War was raging in southeast Asia, and the newscasts were a valuable source of information for Rigdon, a World War II veteran, whose eldest son Billy was in the thick of battles being fought in the steamy jungles of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
“It allowed Dad to understand where Billy was and what he was going through,” Judy says as she gently pulls fragile yellow news clippings and photos of her older brother from a plastic bag. “We watched it every night, but after Billy died, we never watched it again – we just couldn’t.”
Specialist Four William F. Rigdon – “Billy” to his family and friends – shipped out to Vietnam on Dec. 3, 1968 after a thirty-day furlough home.
The day he left the Rigdon family began marking off the days until his return on a large white calendar that hung on the wall in their farmhouse kitchen – 365 days, 364 days, 363 days, and so on, until Billy returns home.
“We didn’t know it then, but he’d told some of his friends he didn’t think he’d make it back alive,” said Judy.
During his seven months of service in Vietnam, the 21-year old Specialist Four would prove his worth and bravery time and again, risking his own life in battle to save his fellow soldiers.
Terry Rigdon calls his brother an unlikely hero.
“When I read about the things he did while he was over there – and not just the stuff he got the medals for – I was amazed because you would never have thought of him as a hero – as somebody who would put his life on the line for someone else. But, you know some people just have that in their hearts – when someone’s in trouble, they act. That’s the way he was, but that’s not how he was at home – he just wasn’t that type of person.”
During his first four weeks in the embattled country, Rigdon served with a field artillery unit, then was assigned to A Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment – the famed Black Horse Regiment. From February to July his tank unit would face unrelenting front line firefights in the jungles and rice fields of the Mekong Delta.
“In letters my Dad sent to my brother he would tell him to stay out of harm’s way, and if he got hurt to make sure he saw a doctor – he was trying to protect him from a world away,” said Terry.
Sunday, Feb. 23, 1969 – 287 days until Billy comes home.

“Billy” Rigdon, left in uniform, with his father William F. Rigdon.

While at Tay Ninh, where heavy fighting had raged near the Cambodian border since Sept. ’68, Billy distinguished himself and was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Silver Star for heroic action.
April 17, 1969- 233days until Billy comes home.
While conducting a reconnaissance operation, Billy’s troop came under attack from concealed enemy forces. His tank was ordered forward for an assault on the enemy’s fortification. The vehicle took a direct hit from enemy fire, wounding the commander. After carrying his commander to safety, Billy assumed command of the vehicle.
Spying two enemy bunkers manned by rocket propelled grenade teams, he directed his gunner to turn the vehicle’s main gun on the fortification, and informed the rest of his platoon of the enemy’s location.
Spotting a crew member in a nearby vehicle knocked to the ground by an exploding rocket propelled grenade, Specialist Four Rigdon ran through enemy fire and moved the wounded man to safety.
He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for bravery. His citation from the government reads: “Specialist Four Ridgon’s courage, devotion to duty and concern for the welfare of this fellow soldiers were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”
May 20, 1969 – 200 days until Billy comes home.
While serving as an armored vehicle commander performing a reconnaissance in force operation, Rigdon’s troop suddenly came under intense enemy fire from small arms, automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades. As his men hurriedly moved into assault formation, Rigdon’s heavy machine gun was destroyed by hostile fire.
Spotting a nearby vehicle that had been disabled by the enemy barrage, he ran across open ground to secure the undamaged machine gun. He then carried the weapon back through enemy fire and joined the assault on the enemy position.
He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. His citation read “Specialist Rigdon’s courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the US Army.”
May 29, 1969 – 191 days until Billy comes home.
Billy was wounded, and earned both the Bronze Star for bravery and the Purple Heart.
Sunday, July 6, 1969–153 days until Billy comes home.
“Dad was worried,” Judy recalls. “He knew it was bad in Vietnam from watching the news, he knew just about where he thought Billy was, and he hadn’t heard from him in a while, so he sat down at the kitchen table to write to him.”
Billy would never receive his father’s letter.
That same day the lead tank in which he was riding was destroyed by a direct hit from the enemy.
While his unit was retreating under fire, he managed to climb out of the tank, but it would be two hours before the badly wounded Specialist 4 could be rescued and taken to a Vietnamese hospital where he passed away later that evening, after undergoing surgery for more than four hours.
He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with First Oak Leaf Cluster for heroism, the Army Commendation Medal for heroism, the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge – all of which were presented posthumously to his grieving parents.
Additionally, prior to his death Rigdon had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, the Vietnam Campaign ribbon, and the Sharp Shooter Badge with Rifle Bar.
Monday, July 7, 1969 – Day 152 until Billy comes home.
Bill Rigdon awakens from a disturbing dream which he shares with his family.
“Dad got up that morning after Billy died and said “I heard Billy calling to me last night in a dream – he kept calling out Dad, Dad”, but at that time we didn’t know that Billy was gone,” Judy says. “I think Dad was so afraid for him because he was in a war himself.”
Tuesday, July 8, 1969 – Day 151 until Billy comes home.
Judy and Terry spot a green car traveling down the long lane that led to their family’s home.
“I’m going to try and sell them the farm,” Terry joked.
The car stopped and two army officials got out and walked toward the house.
“When we saw they were wearing uniforms we knew that something was wrong,” Terry said.
The family gathered round the kitchen table. Bill and Goldie Rigdon were presented a telegram reading “The Secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep regret that your son, Specialist Four William F. Rigdon, died on July 6, 1969, as a result of wounds received while…on a combat operation.”
“Life for our Dad was terrible after Billy died,” Terry recalls. “Our Mom was a person who could get through stuff, she was strong like that, but Dad never got over it.
Friday, July 18, 1969 – Billy comes home.
Specialist Four William F. Rigdon arrived home with an Army Escort who remained by his side until he was buried.
“Time eases pain – but it’s always in the back of your mind – you wonder what he’d be doing today,” Terry says. “It was a sad time, but then it was a sad time for a lot of people in Adams County.”

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