2 soldiers killed in the Vietnam War will be honored in Stuart; family says honor will bring peace

2 families wait decades for honor

After more than 40 years, the wait is finally over for two families. Their loved ones were killed fighting in the Vietnam War, now the city of Stuart is honoring their sacrifice.

"My heart will rejoice every time I pass," says Jennifer Matheny, the niece of Lawrence Frank Turner.

A park on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard that will soon bear the names of two young men from Stuart.

"We gotta teach the children that freedom has never been free," says Clarence Banks, Turner's nephew.

Richard Smith, Jr. served in the U.S. Army. He was killed in Vietnam in 1967 after stepping on a landmine. He was 19.

"Not a day goes by," says Smith's sister Robbie Turner, "I love my brother."

His friend Lawrence Turner was drafted.

"He was a genius musician," says Banks, "He could play the organ like you would not believe."

Turner's entire unit was killed in a battle in Vietnam in 1968. He was 22.

"When the soldier walked up to my grandmother's, knocked on the door and I can hear her voice saying 'no, no'," says Matheny.

The two families have heard for decades that their loved ones would be honored in Stuart but it never happened.

Turner's mother pushed for some kind of recognition.

"She died waiting on this because they promised this to her," says Turner's sister Lila Campbell.

That will change on Memorial Day when a park will officially be named Smith-Turner park.

"Like to thank God for finally letting this event take place," says Robbie Turner.

City Commissioner James Christie helped make it happen.

"I'm very proud because this is recognition," says Christie.

Both families say the honor gives them peace.

"We have nieces, nephews, grandchildren that we can still speak to them and tell them about the legacy that these young men left," says Matheny.

The city will have an official dedication on Monday, May 26 at 2 p.m. A plaque will be unveiled and a flag will fly from the pole in their honor.

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