By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“We come together on this day to pay tribute to all veterans past and present,” said retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Todd Bolden, who served as master of ceremonies at Gardiner Community Cemetery.
“We particularly gather here today to honor Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields, our Seabee comrade and Medal of Honor recipient who made the ultimate sacrifice in battle and saved his fellow shipmates.”
Two Navy battalions totaling about 100 active-duty sailors were positioned around the 40-person visitors' tent in a symbolic portrayal of how the military protects the public. It was the 46th time that a Veterans Day has passed since Shields was laid to rest at the cemetery as a hero.
It was also the first Veterans Day commemoration since the April death of his daughter, Barbara Shields Rote, whose grave is adjacent to her father's.
“Petty Officer Shields fought selflessly for freedom's sake and gave his all for his love of God and country,” said Navy Command Chaplain Don Biadog.
“We will always remember his courage along with his valor and sacrifice 47 years ago,” Biadog said.
“His selfless actions assure the protection of his family and his child along with future generations of American children.
“Today, we honor all our warriors who have served honorably across the globe and have helped us to destroy all the enemies of freedom and protect millions from tyranny.”
Shields was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson for gallantry during combat.
He died at the age of 25 in Vietnam, where he was a mechanic with the Navy's Mobile Construction Battalion known familiarly as the Seabees.
Shields' Seabee team arrived to build an Army Special Forces compound in Dong Xoai, 55 miles north of Saigon, on June 10, 1965.
He was wounded when his unit came under heavy fire from a 1,500-man Viet Cong regiment's machine guns, heavy weapons and small arms.
Shields carried on despite his injuries, resupplying his fellow troops with ammunition and returning the enemy fire for almost three hours.
Shields was wounded a second time during the Viet Cong attack but continued to fight.
At one point, he assisted in carrying a more critically wounded man to safety, then resumed firing at the enemy for four more hours.
A commander eventually asked for a volunteer to accompany him in an attempt to knock out the enemy machine gun emplacement that was assaulting their position.
The group knocked out the gun, but Shields was shot again and this time was mortally wounded.
Those attending Monday's ceremony included Shields' widow, Joan Bennett, and his sister.
After the ceremony, all the attendees were invited to the Gardiner Community Center for refreshments — after which time they visited Fat Smitty's cafe in Discovery Bay “for a good old-fashioned Seabees no-host lunch.”
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.