ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – The City of the Atlantic Beach celebrated a fallen Vietnam veteran Saturday with a special dedication ceremony, proclaiming Feb. 15 to be known as Leroy Everett Day.
Sergeant First Class Leroy Everett was 25 years old when he died in a helicopter crash in South Vietnam. The Atlantic Beach native is remembered as a hometown hero who was dedicated to serving his country.
Additionally, the main road in the Dutton Island Preserve has been renamed U.S. Army SFC Leroy Everett Memorial Parkway. The Commission-approved resolution reads, “The City Commission hereby directs staff to erect and proudly display suitable markers at the honorarily designated roadway to honor Atlantic Beach resident Sergeant First Class Leroy Everett, who gave his life for our country during the Vietnam War.”
Everett had already finished a tour in Vietnam and returned home to Atlantic Beach, but his dedication to his country outweighed the encouragement of others to stay home. He reenlisted, and ten days into his second tour in 1967, his helicopter went down due to engine failure.
All 10 people aboard the helicopter, including Everett, died in the crash.
Leroy Everett Jr. was just 2 years old when his father died in combat.
“Oh God, my father was my hero,” Everett Jr. said. “I don’t have a lot of memories of him because I was so young, but I feel his spirit in me when I look in the mirror and look at his picture and see him all in me”
According to the City of Atlantic Beach, Everett was born and raised on Mealy Lane in Atlantic Beach. He played as a child on Dutton Island Preserve, known locally at the time as Girvin Island.
Dozens of Everett’s family members attended the ceremony as well as his fellow classmates of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts class of 1960.
Retired Sergeant Major Calvin Brown served in Vietnam at the same time as Everett. The childhood friends used to run around Dutton Island together.
“This was our playground in the 50s, early 60s," Brown said. "He was fun but, yes, quiet. You’d see him but not hear him sometimes. He was some kind of a guy. He was really nice, good guy”
Other Atlantic Beach natives who lost their lives serving their country have previously been honored with streets and parks named after them. Everett is the first African-American to receive such an honor in the city.
Everett is forever honored on Panel 32E, Line 21 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.