A Livingston County man is the first Michigan Vietnam veteran to be acknowledged for his service with a special certificate.
On August 1st, U.S. Marine Corps veteran David Mester of Fowlerville received the first Michigan Vietnam Veteran Recognition Certificate with a special designation for exposure to Agent Orange, as part of a new program proposed by state Rep. Bob Bezotte (R-Howell) and signed into law last year by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
According to official numbers, over 400,000 Michigan servicemen and women served in the Vietnam War, with 2,651 men and women giving their lives in the conflict.
The 72-year-old Mester, a member of the Marine Corps League Murnighan Detachment 161, said he came in contact with Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant, while serving in Vietnam and has since survived two bouts with cancer.
The certificate is available to living Vietnam veterans and to the families or designated representatives of deceased Vietnam veterans. Veterans or their representatives can submit their information for a certificate at Michigan.gov/VietnamCertificate.
Rep. Bezotte was in attendance at the ceremony for Mester, as was former state Rep. Dr. Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville) a Vietnam War veteran and former Army Captain who introduced the original bill to recognize veterans who had suffered medical problems from Agent Orange.
Cindy Denby, a former state representative who also also served as a legislative aide to both Vaupel and Bezotte and assisted in getting the bill passed, was also present.
PICTURED: David Mester, third from right, received the first Michigan Vietnam Veteran Recognition Certificate (with a special designation for exposure to Agent Orange) on Aug. 1 in Lansing. With him, from left, is former Rep. Hank Vaupel; Rep. Bob Bezotte; former Rep. Cindy Denby; Angelo DePollo, a Marine Corps veteran who serves on Bezotte’s staff; and Brig. Gen. Lawrence Schloegl, Michigan’s assistant adjutant general.