LEWISTON — Auburn author Jack Flowers, who wrote about his experiences in Vietnam as a tunnel rat, will give the keynote address at this year’s Veterans Day ceremony Friday morning at Veterans Memorial Park on Main Street.

Flowers, a combat engineer platoon leader in the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, had the unenviable task of lowering himself through a trap door, armed with just a knife, pistol, hand grenades and a flashlight, and enter a maze of dark, narrow tunnels underground where the enemy hid.

Jack Flowers

“It was scary,” Flowers said in a 2018 interview with the Sun Journal. “We were pretty well trained, but at the very beginning, if you went into a tunnel, it was almost suicidal.”

Flowers made 97 separate missions into the tunnels during his tour in Vietnam. He wrote about his experiences in the book “Rat Six,” documenting his service in Vietnam and the little-known story about the U.S. servicemen who served as tunnel rats. The book is technically fiction since Flowers changed the names, but the lead character is based on his experiences.

In addition to Flowers’ keynote address, highlights of Friday’s ceremony include unveiling the 34th memorial granite marker with 512 more names of local veterans who have served in past military conflicts. The stone is dedicated to the new Space Force.

The L&A Veterans Council will also dedicate a new memorial bench in honor of Bert Dutil. A Korean War veteran, Dutil, who died in June, was active in numerous veterans’ organizations throughout the Twin Cities, including serving nine years as the chairman of the L&A Veterans Council.

The ceremony Friday begins at 10 a.m. with an eight-piece all-volunteer band, several veteran organizations, Civil Air Patrol cadets from Auburn, and Junior Air Force ROTC cadets from Lewiston participating. Service songs will be played by bagpiper James Thibodeau. The Kora Temple and its Legion of Honor will lead the flag ceremony with a brass band playing the national anthem. Prayers will be led by the Rev. George Sheats from St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Auburn.

The Captain Frank W. Hulett Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1603 in Auburn will offer a cannon salute, and Ed Holt will play taps.

Spectators are asked to bring their own chairs to the ceremony.

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