Valley soldier honored

FRESNO, Calif.

21-year-old Army Specialist Thomas Mayberry died in December of 2011 while on duty in Afghanistan.

The Clovis VFW Post used Saturday's event to honor the sacrifice Mayberry made on the battlefield. They are also hoping to help the Fresno VA hospital buy rehabilitation equipment for veterans who return to the Valley injured.

Dozens of veterans, strangers and family members paused to remember the life of a young army specialist, a man who was raised in the Valley and wanted a better life for himself and his country.

"I think Thomas would have been very honored," his uncle Steven Bell said. "I'm surprised by all of the hubbub, so to speak, too. But I'm very proud of what Thomas had done."

Thomas Mayberry spent much of his childhood in Clovis, just a short distance from where his name is now memorialized on this wall outside a popular restaurant.

The owners of Sandy's Country Junction felt this is the perfect spot to remember the 11 young Clovis men who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They walk in and they stop," said Bob Piece. "Everybody stops and looks and contemplates what they've given. It's in a real nice spot for it."

Mayberry's uncle also received a special plaque. After graduating high school he joined the military to escape the troubled path he was heading down.

"He thought maybe this is what I need to kind of get it together," Bell said. "And once he got in, you could see a difference. There's more pride in what he did."

The Clovis VFW Post organized the memorial. The veterans hope remembering this type of sacrifice will help further their cause of healing wounded vets.

"We've just tried to pick up a little bit of the slack, or the missing things they have in the rehab department," said Post Commander Tom Gritton.

And now Mayberry's family has a permanent memorial to show Clovis what they are missing.

"Not just all the fun memories of watching Thomas grow up, but a way to remember the ultimate sacrifice that he had as well," Bell said.

The VFW says it will continue to honor vets and help in any way possible. The post is hoping for help from the public to cover those costs.

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