DERRY — The military service of a Vietnam veteran was honored recently with a bench unveiled as a tribute.
Lt. Brian M. Thacker, a U.S. Army veteran and a member of Pinkerton Academy's class of 1963 now has a bench along the Derry rail trail as a tribute to his service as a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest honor for valor.
Local veterans representing the American Legion Post 9 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1617, along with the Halcyon Club made the bench possible and hosted a dedication ceremony on Nov. 14 at the bench site along the trail system.
The plaque on the bench includes all Derry veterans in the tribute.
Prior to joining the military, Thacker was an athlete and participated in many Pinkerton plays and productions while attending school there. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon in 1973 for his heroic actions in the Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam in March of 1972.
Thacker is a member of Pinkerton's Hall of Fame, inducted in 2013.
During the ceremony, veterans told Thacker's story of how he went above and beyond to keep fellow troops safe.
His official medal citation read "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, 1st Lt. Thacker, Field Artillery, Battery A, distinguished himself while serving as the team leader of an Integrated Observation System collocated with elements of 2 Army of the Republic of Vietnam units at Fire Base 6."
The citation went on to describe Thacker's actions after North Vietnamese troops launched an attack on the fire base, as Thacker "rallied and encouraged the U.S. and Republic of Vietnam soldiers in heroic efforts to repulse the enemy."
Thacker currently lives out of town, but members of his Pinkerton class of 1963 were on hand at the bench ceremony to show their support for their classmate.
"He was shy and quiet and a gentleman," Gaye Merewether Yanuszewski recalled of her classmate, adding Thacker's sense of respect came from being part of a military family.
He also moved with his family often growing up, his classmates said, but always called Derry his home.
"We are glad this is where he came to remember the best times," Billie Bernier said.
During the bench ceremony, Derry Town Councilor Richard Tripp, also a veteran presented a proclamation to Thacker on his special day.
"It's fitting this bench be dedicated in his honor for his service," Tripp said.