A local branch of the Massachsuetts Army National Guard now has a memorial of its unique service to the Vietnam War.

A granite bench was dedicated to the members of the Army National Guard's 1st Battalion 211th Field Artillery Sunday afternoon at New Bedford's National Guard Park on Rt. 6 across from Buttonwood Park.

The dedication ceremony was hosted by Richard F. Howland Chapter of the National Guard Field Artillery Veterans Organization Commander Normand Cabral.

The 211th was the only National Guard unit mobilized in the United States during the Vietnam War.

On May 13, 1968, the unit traveled to Georgia, including 580 soldiers from the New Bedford area.

"Sent down to Ft. Benning, Georgia for 24 months, we were attached to the 197th Infantry Brigade," Cabral said. "While the unit itself never left the United States, it became a 'filler unit.'"

As a filler unit, individual soldiers were selected from the unit to be deployed to South Vietnam based upon their rank and qualifications and the Army's needs at that given time.

The 211th returned to Ft. Devens, Massachusetts on December 12, 1969.

"It's important that future generations know that citizen soldiers from this community were called upon by their nation and answered the call and served their county," said Brig. Gen. (MA-Ret.) Frank A. LaBollita, Director of Veterans Affairs, office of the adjutant general-Massachusetts about the dedication.

The granite for the bench came from Vermont and was prepared by Tootell Monuments of New Bedford. It features an inscription and artwork associated with the battalion.

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