A true American hero

Published 5:16 pm Saturday, July 4, 2015

Coming off the annual celebration of American independence, an observance in which U.S. citizens remember the courage and sacrifices of men great and small, Suffolk is remembering a military man whose own service in Vietnam was no less courageous for the modern times in which he fought.

Fred Ernst Lacey died in his Sleepy Lake West home last Sunday at the age of 84. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps in 1974, having pulled two tours in Vietnam, where he flew 631 combat missions with the Second Marine Air Wing. He managed to avoid personal injury in the air, but he was injured in a rocket attack in his quarters.

He received a Purple Heart for that incident, along with 36 other personal decorations, including 31 air medals, the Vietnamese Honor Medal, a Silver Star and the Legion of Merit.

Email newsletter signup

Fred Lacey was, by all accounts, a Marine’s Marine who was proud to serve his country and instilled that same pride of service in two daughters, one of whom went on to become a U.S. Navy corpsman and one of whom became a Marine.

Men like Fred Lacey — and the women who joined the service when the option became available to them — are the true stuff of American legend. We honor their service and their memory.