FILE PHOTO The Journal
Nick Parnello is pictured in the front on the left with many of his Vietnam War buddies.

After years of showing support to fellow veterans of the Vietnam War, Nick Parnello was recently honored for his dedication to that cause.

He was recommended to local contractor Randy Palmeri & Son of Rockford to be that company’s recipient of a free exterior home makeover…well deserved.

Palmeri chooses a deserving veteran each year who then receives a new roof and siding, along with other improvements on the home, including landscaping services done through Tuscan Landscapes of Belvidere.

As noted by buddy, Terry Coffman, a Marine vet, “Nick is just always doing things for other people…and doing mostly things people don’t even know about.” Coffman nominated Parnello for the award.

One example of what Parnello accomplished over the years with other vets was creation and construction of The LZ Peace Memorial…a jewel and that is located at Midway Village and Museum Center, 6799 Guilford Road. Parnello was also behind obtaining a Vietnam era Huey helicopter for the site.

*More information on what Parnello and his buddies have accomplished over the years since coming home:

Returning veterans formed the Vietnam Veterans Honor Society and created the beautiful monument that was dedicated in 2005. The names of Winnebago County patriots who gave the ultimate sacrifice are etched into the black granite Wall of Honor.

“LZ” stands for Landing Zone. These locations in Vietnam were places where hope and medical treatment for wounded soldiers could be found. The medical Huey helicopters were used to evacuate the injured.

Due to the Huey that is on display at the memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Honor Society felt the name, LZ Peace Memorial, was a natural name for a place to honor the Veterans of Winnebago County who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Rockford Chapter of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) also felt it would be the perfect place to put the pictures of the men on display as well and doing a lot of work in obtaining photos of those who were killed in ‘Nam or who have died from the effects of Agent Orange.

“On Memorial Day 2015, a display case, donated by the Rockford Park District, was unveiled at the LZ Peace Memorial. Members of the Rockford Chapter were on hand to participate in the event. The case was erected so that the faces of the heroes were facing the granite wall bearing their names.

At that presentation, one Vietnam veteran said, “This is a long-awaited act of healing.”

The LZ Peace Memorial is a place of honor for those veterans who served our country, in war and in peace. This memorial stands as a testimony to those soldiers from Winnebago County who made the ultimate sacrifice at a time of great conflict.

The Memorial lists all of those local veterans who have died as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. The site is a beautiful and peaceful place and honors their memory and for their service to our country.

Nick Parnello founded the Vietnam Veterans Home Society in the 1980s and it is under its auspices. Many citizens of Rockford are unaware that the LZ Peace Memorial is the only one of its kind in America. It not only has the granite wall with the names of Winnebago County combat casualties and the wall of faces but it also bears the names of men who have died from Agent Orange.

Agent Orange is a powerful herbicide and defoliant containing trace amounts of dioxin, a toxic impurity suspected of causing serious health problems, including cancer, genetic damage in some persons exposed to it and birth defects in their off-spring.

It was used by the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam War to defoliate jungles. It is called Agent Orange because of the color of the stripe on the container it was stored in.

The LZ site will be the site on May 4 of a “Purple Heart” display, Saturday, May 27, will host a remembrance of Memorial Day.

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