Family of fallen Navy medic will receive award at annual Veterans Day dinner

On Veterans Day next month, the family of fallen Navy medic Ryley Gallinger-Long will accept yet another honor on behalf of their husband, son and brother.

The Forest Grove Elks will present a Medal of Valor to Gallinger-Long’s mother, Susan Blanchard of Cornelius, his wife, Hope, and other family members at their annual Veterans Day dinner the afternoon of Nov. 11.

The award is designed to honor a local military veteran who died in battle, said Elks Lodge secretary Karen Shepard. “This is the first time this medal has been given out in Forest Grove in the last 10 years,” Shepard said last week.

A 2010 graduate of Forest Grove High School, Ryley Gallinger-Long was killed in action in Afghanistan in August 2011.

Zack Gallinger-Long of Hillsboro, Ryley’s brother and one of the people who spearheaded the transformation of Cornelius’ Arboretum Park to Veterans Memorial Park this year, said he first heard about the Elks award when one of the lodge leaders approached him at the park dedication ceremony last June.

“This award is such an honor,” Gallinger-Long said. “It’s nice to attend events like this, even after more than a year since Ryley’s death.”

Each year the local Elks, in conjunction with the Forest Grove American Legion post, put on a dinner for the community’s veterans and their immediate family members, noted Shepard. Last year, she said, they served about 125 people.

This year’s event will be at 1 p.m., with the award presentation for Gallinger-Long scheduled at 1:30 p.m.

High school sets assembly

Meanwhile, Forest Grove High School will hold its annual Veterans Day assembly from 9:20 to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8 in the school gym, 1401 Nichols Lane.

Keynote speaker will be Paul McCahon, retired from the U.S. Army. The older brother of FGHS social studies teacher Scott McCahon, Paul served in the Vietnam War as a gunner on a helicopter. He lives in June Lake, Calif.

All local veterans and their families are invited to attend, and a reception will be held after the program in the FGHS library, said Bob Wismer, one of the organizers.

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