Grand Junction remembers a hometown hero


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – (KREX) The saying, never forget has been used in several forms to honor all those that have served our military. Today, many gathered to never forget a Marine from Mesa County.

What first started as a Marine wanting to pay his respect to another comrade, quickly turned into a community gathering to honor the life of Gary Trujillo. “We remember these people, because we served with them in combat, they died, we didn’t,” Jim Velcheck, U.S. Marine says.

Other Marines attended, one that even shared a classroom with Trujillo in Grand Junction. “He had a terrific sense of humor and I guess that’s why I like him so well, he always kept me laughing,” Butch Austin, U.S. Marine recalls.

In 1967 many gathered to celebrate the life of Gary Trujillo, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam war. Almost 54 years later, family members and comrades of Trujillo gather again, this time for a different kind of ceremony. “I think it was appreciated and I think it was good for us too, me in particular. I am the one who was with Gary when he died, right next to him,” Velcheck said.

On November 29th, 1967 Gary Trujillo died in combat, but many comrades and family members were left with questions. “If you haven’t been to Vietnam you just simply can’t understand what it was like,” Austin explains.

To help all those who are close to Trujillo, a comrade who served with him read a passage describing Gary’s death. “I only knew Gary for 37 minutes, but I will never forget his name, date of birth or date of death,” Velcheck reads.

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