In Honor of Memorial Day:
New Hanover County Schools Employee Gives Back to Fellow Vietnam Veterans
Robert “Topp” Pavlik, New Hanover County Schools Bus Garage Foreman, instantly lights up when he begins to talk about his participation in the Nam Knights of America. He serves as president of the local chapter of the military and veteran motorcycle club, in which he was a founding member. Mr. Pavlik has spent the last 21 years with NHCS though prior to his tenure with the district, he served in the U. S. Marine Corps from 1969 until his retirement as a first sergeant in 1990. During his military career, he proudly served two tours in the Vietnam War from 1969 through 1971, where he was amidst combat on Hills 55, 510, 37 and 10. Though the days of Vietnam are long over for Mr. Pavlik, they are not forgotten. To honor fellow Vietnam vets and other military personnel, he now spends countless hours supporting and helping active military and veterans who have served our country from WWII to today’s Afghanistan and Iraqi conflicts. “Never again will a veteran be forgotten. That’s what I live by,” said Mr. Pavlik.
One outreach Mr. Pavlik and fellow Nam Knights members are taking part in is the return of lost military dog tags to Vietnam veterans. Approximately 465 lost tags were recovered in 1993 by a U.S. Vietnam veteran, and since that time, various veteran groups, including the Nam Knights of America, have been working to return the sacred tags to the veterans or the veterans’ families. This Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Pavlik and members of the POW/MIA Committee will travel to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. to take part in a special ceremony as they return the dog tags of a Vietnam veteran to the deceased soldier’s daughter. When asked why a soldier’s dog tags are so important, Mr. Pavlik quickly responded, “They become a part of your identity, part of your uniform, regardless of rank.” Last week, Mr. Pavlik had the honor to receive another dog tag to be returned. He, along with U.S. Congressman Walter Jones, representing North Carolina’s Third Congressional District, will return the dog tag to its rightful owner during a ceremony scheduled for June 4th at the Pitt County Court House in Greenville, NC.
There are still at least 375 dog tags to be returned, though that does not dampen Mr. Pavlik’s pursuit in helping to return all of the tags to their owners. The POW/MIA Awareness Committee welcomes any help in finding the veterans or their families that the dog tags belong to. The full list of dogs tags can be found online at: www.powmiaawareness.org. Mr. Pavlik can also be reached via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, to share more information about the project.
For those who would like to support our country’s military men and women, Mr. Pavlik simply recommended, “Show them you care by thanking them for their service.”
|Robert “Topp” Pavlik||Vietnam Dog Tag|