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Published: Sunday, 7/3/2005

Toledo bash honors veterans

BY JEREMY LEMER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Richard Pontious, wearing a leather vest with a drawing of the Vietnam veterans memorial, watches the band at the Veterans Bash in Promenade Park. Nearby is an Agent Orange flag. Richard Pontious, wearing a leather vest with a drawing of the Vietnam veterans memorial, watches the band at the Veterans Bash in Promenade Park. Nearby is an Agent Orange flag.
ALLAN DETRICH / BLADE Enlarge

Motorcycle spokes sparkled, speakers blared, and beer fizzed under a pristine blue sky yesterday at the first Veterans Bash in Promenade Park.

The event, sponsored by Clear Channel Communications Inc., was dedicated to the U.S. veterans who have risked their lives defending this country.

"Everyone in town knows at least one veteran through family or friends, and they deserve to get some appreciation," said Amy Jo Simon, Clear Channel's local events and promotions director.

The ingredients for the event were simple. Three local rock bands, food and beer, a motorcycle show, and a headline act by AC/DC tribute band Hells/ Bells. By midafternoon only a hundred or so people had gathered, but organizers were expecting many more later in the evening.

Richard Pontious, "Poncho" to his friends, came with a Harley Davidson and a bundle of Vietnam War stories he was happy to share with passers-by.

"I think it is very important we remember that it's the veterans who keep our country free," he said. Draped loosely over his shoulders was a leather vest with a drawing of the Vietnam memorial in Washington on the lapel.

Mr. Pontious was in his early 20s when he arrived in Vietnam in July, 1968, serving with the 25th Infantry Division before he was wounded on Aug. 19, 1968, nearly losing his right leg. He eventually spent a year and a half in Walter Reed Army Medical Center for treatment of his leg wounds. It hurts occasionally, but it doesn't keep him from riding or enjoying events like the Veteran's Bash. Proceeds from the Veterans Bash will go to the Order of the Silver Rose, an organization that aids American service personnel affected by Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Other guests came for the music. Brian Malkowski and his girlfriend, Melissa Baker, both of Cincinnati, were in town for the Fourth of July holiday.

Sitting on the grass in front of the main stage, they listened to Toledo band Hughrock.

"It's a beautiful day, the sun's shining, and we're having a good time," Mr. Malkowski said. "I have been in the mood for classic rock for the last few days and that is exactly what they are playing."

Contact Jeremy Lemer at: jlemer@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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