A moving' tribute to Vietnam vets
REMEMBERING Becky May points out her late husband's name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall on Saturday. Richard E. May volunteered with the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of sergeant in one year of service before he was killed on May 17, 1969, in Thua Thien, South Vietnam. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star.
By Tony Krausz / staff writer
Aug. 10, 2003
Under the blistering morning sun, Becky May stood between a white Red Cross tent and the gleaming black Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall on Saturday in the parking lot of Bonita Lakes Mall.
It was the first time she had ever seen the wall that bears her husband's name, Richard E. May, along with the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women killed or missing in action in Vietnam from 1959-1975.
With her salt-and-pepper hair poking over the top of a navy blue visor, Becky May wiped away tears from behind her wire-rimmed glasses as she talked about the husband she lost on May 17, 1969, in Thua Thien, South Vietnam.
Richard May, affectionately nicknamed "Bum" by his uncle, declined the opportunity in the spring of 1968 to attend then Delta State College in Cleveland on a baseball scholarship, after playing at then-East Mississippi Junior College in Scooba.
The West Lauderdale graduate, whose name dons the school's softball field and end of the year athletic award for outstanding athlete, married Becky May, who also went to West Lauderdale, in the spring of 1968, and he went to work at a Western Auto warehouse.
Richard May volunteered to join the U.S. armed forces, attaining the rank of sergeant in one year of service in the U.S. Army.
Crenshaw, with a single tear on the collar of her blouse of her black pants suit, said her brother enjoyed the music of Hank Williams Jr., eating cheeseburgers and drinking Cokes, riding horses, hunting and fishing.
Richard May was 6-foot-4, a standout athlete in high school.
He pitched on the West Lauderdale baseball team and played center for the basketball team, helping the Knights win a state basketball title in 1965.
Crenshaw said her brother enjoyed and excelled at both basketball and baseball almost equally, and she can still close her eyes and remember him competing.
Baseball was also the setting for the first time Becky May would learn of her future husband.
Richard May played on the Babe Ruth baseball team that Becky May's brother was playing against.
The two started dating in the ninth grade at West Lauderdale.
Their first date was dinner and a movie, and they often rode horses together.