VA clinic named for Newark man killed in Vietnam

NEWARK, OH (WCMH) — A Newark Army combat medic who was awarded two Bronze Stars, but died fighting in the Vietnam War, was honored Monday in a dedication ceremony.

The VA clinic on West Main Street in Newark was dedicated in the name of Army Specialist Kinnard, as the Daniel L. Kinnard VA Community-based Outpatient Clinic. Kinnard was an 18-year-old soldier when he died in combat on March 9, 1968.

His nieces opened the naming ceremony in a very special way, by singing the National Anthem.

Kinnard is survived by two brothers. His brother Steven spoke of how just recently his mother Kathryn asked him if he would like to read Daniel’s letters home.

“No one had ever read them but my mom and dad,” Steven said as he choked up. He said his brother wrote openly about his combat experiences and probably witnessed a lot for a 17-year-old who dropped out of school and convinced his parents to let him join the Army.

“I think it was a way of him dealing with the everyday things he had to do with wounded and casualties,” Steven told the audience of nearly 100 people. He said Daniel’s faith in his country never faltered, even in death.  “They found a full-size American flag folded up inside his field pack,” he said. “All the medical supplies he had to carry, and he carried a flag,” Steven said.

His mother Kathryn Kinnard helped unveiled the plaque dedicated to Specialist Kinnard, with the help of Congressman Pat Tiberi and US Senator Rob Portman.

Both of whom were instrumental in passing bills for the naming of this VA. Portman said Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act about six months ago. The law is meant to help VA’s stop the over-prescribing of addictive prescription drugs, he said.

“This particular clinic has great support in the veterans community, and it has been a God-send to Licking County,” Congressman Pat Tiberi.

“The VA has got a big role to play with our veterans, but specifically on this opioid issue, they can play a special role for our entire country,” Senator Portman said.

David Walz, with the Military Order of the Purple Heart said he approached the Kinnard family in June of 2015 and got their blessing to move forward in naming the clinic. Walz contacted Congressman Tiberi’s office along with several letters from local veteran’s groups and the name change passed the US House in December 2016, then Portman shepherded it through the Senate with Senator Sherrod Brown’s assistance from across the aisle.

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