Many people know Rob Sinton as a local swim coach — but in 1968 he was serving in Vietnam, and his perspectives on that conflict will be a highlight of Mount Airy’s annual Memorial Day observance.
It is scheduled Monday at 10 a.m. at the city war memorial on the corner of South Main and Rockford streets.
Sinton has been tapped as special speaker for the remembrance program, which offers an opportunity for local citizens to honor the sacrifices of those dying in service to the nation while also recognizing the men and women in uniform today.
Mayor David Rowe will emcee Monday’s event, which in addition to the remarks by Sinton will feature:
• A raising of the flag by the City of Mount Airy Honor Guard;
• An invocation by former Mayor Deborah Cochran;
• The singing of the national anthem by Alex Martin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church;
• The placing of a wreath at the war memorial, which lists the names of Surry County residents who have died in U.S. wars;
• A rifle volley salute by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Honor Guards of Mount Airy Post 2019 and Pilot Mountain Post 9436.
Everyone is invited to the holiday gathering.
‘Happy Memorial Day?’
Sinton said Wednesday that he was unsure of his topic for the Memorial Day event when first approached about being the special speaker.
“When I was asked, all these thoughts were spinning in my head,” said the Mount Airy resident who enlisted in the Army in 1967.
The local Vietnam War veteran finally settled on themes related to the often-misused phrase “Happy Memorial Day” and the idea of applying that word to such a solemn time, and “what a hero really is,” he said Wednesday.
The speaker also will discuss his background in getting involved with the Vietnam War.
A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, Sinton was in Vietnam during the 1968-69 period.
“I got there in time for Tet,” he said of the Tet Offensive. It was a massive campaign of surprise attacks waged in 1968 by the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong against the U.S. and its allies.
Sinton would survive the war and in addition to his military service was a collegiate swimmer in New Jersey and is a retired teacher of exceptional children.
He, wife Carol and their daughter Jennifer moved to Mount Airy about 14 years ago.
While here, Sinton has served as a swim coach for Special Olympics, taught youth and adult swimming lessons and has been a longtime volunteer for organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Surry Animal Rescue and hospice.
In case of bad weather, Monday’s service will be moved inside to council chambers of the Mount Airy Municipal Building.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.