Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Iowa’s ‘garden of stone’ welcomes a hero • Iowa Capital Dispatch

By Vaseline May27,2024

an American flag waves in the wind above the Iowa Veterans Cemetery. (Photo by Pat Kinney)

ADEL — It was probably fitting that Larry Walters was buried by his friends on a windy day.
All the flags at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery seemed to stand at attention, shoulders to the wind and fully unfurled, in tribute to a man who stood tall and proud in his service, in and out of uniform. And the gray clouds gave way as the cemetery’s stone gardens were drenched in sunlight.

It was a very peaceful and pastoral setting – a fitting place for Larry Walters or anyone else who spent time at war or on the watch for freedom.

Walters, 80, who died March 12 after a struggle with dementia, was a Vietnam veteran from Cedar Falls who also served 36 years in the Iowa National Guard, as a helicopter mechanic at the Guard aviation facility north of the Waterloo airport.

He served 366 days in Vietnam in 1967-68 as a heavy machine gunner in the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. He was involved in Operation Pegasus in support of the embattled Marines at Khe Sanh. He received, among other things, a Bronze Star.

Larry Walters (Photo courtesy of Walters obituary)

In civilian life, Walters helped restore and revitalize the Cedar Falls Veterans of Foreign Wars post; helped preserve the historic rural German cemetery and historic Bennington Township School No. 4 northeast of Waterloo; and helped establish a wheelchair ramp project for disabled veterans, primarily with experienced volunteers.

In 2015, he and a committee of Vietnam veterans also helped plan what is now a permanent Vietnam exhibit at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo’s Grout Museum District. The effort was recognized by the Iowa Tourism Council.

A busload of family, friends, fellow veterans, an escort of motorcyclists and additional mourners in private vehicles accompanied Larry’s remains on a final 150-mile journey.

Iowa Army National Guard soldiers perform flag folding rituals during the service for Larry Walters at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Adel, with Walters’ urn at left and an honor guard rifle squad during parade rest in the background (Photo by Pat Kinney)

It was a fitting tribute to a man who had gone the extra mile for so many.

The Iowa Veterans Cemetery was dedicated in 2008 on 250 acres of land provided by two donors in rural Adel. It is located just south of Interstate 80 in Dallas County, between West Des Moines and De Soto.

The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs raised money for the cemetery and it was approved by the Iowa Legislature in 2005. More information about the cemetery, including history and suitability, can be found here.

It provided a fitting perspective for the simple, poignant, intimate final tribute to Larry Walters – in the springtime beauty of the Iowa fruit patch.

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