WOOD RIVER, Ill. (KMOX) – Three U.S. Marines from the Metro-East – three high school friends – were killed in 1967 while serving in Vietnam.
On Saturday, Illinois State Senator Bill Haine took part in a remembrance ceremony at the Wood River VFW hall, where road signs commissioned by the state legislature were dedicated to Lance Corporal Chris Totora, Lance Corporal Richard Bennett, and PFC Jim Stassi.
“These three signs, on behalf of these three young men from Wood River, say to those passing by, ‘Tell America we were faithful to her service,'” Haine said.
The families of Totora, Bennett, and Stassi each received a sign from Senator Haine, similar to ones placed along a section of Route 143 in Wood River.
Totora’s sister, Mary Roberts, rode in a procession led by members of the Patriot Guard to the ceremony where firefighters from Wood River and East Alton had lifted a large American flag between their ladder trucks, “It was so neat to ride down the highway with people standing there waving flags. Our boys finally got the recognition they deserved 50 years ago.”
St. Louis County native John MacDonald remembers going through Marines boot camp in California with Totora and Stassi, “The thing I remember most about them was how patriotic they were. It really impressed me. Both Chris and James couldn’t have been nicer guys. They had futures ahead of them. It’s such a shame their lives ended so short and so quick when they got over to Vietnam.”