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Memorial Gravestone Honors Vian Man MIA in Vietnam

Wednesday, April 22, 2021 - A memorial gravestone for a Vietnam War hero from Vian was delivered Wednesday to the town's Anna Belle Farmer Park.

The stone honors Capt. Neil S. Bynum, an Air Force pilot who was shot down and declared missing in action Oct. 26, 1969.

E.O. Smith Jr., the Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor for District 5, recalled going to school with Bynum, who was quarterback of the football team and a pole vaulter.

The stone was placed next to a memorial honoring Henry Frederick, another war veteran and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Smith said much of the credit for getting the memorial for Bynum goes to retired Vian teacher Jim Owens and DeAnn Parks.

Owens, a former paratrooper in the military, went above and beyond to help finance the gravestone, Smith said, going so far as to jump out of an airplane to raise money.

Smith said the gravestone looks “really good” in its resting place at the park, a fitting tribute for a fallen hero.

“This was a long time coming,” Smith said. The dedication ceremony for the stone is scheduled for Saturday, May 1, but Smith said the time will be announced later.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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