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42 years ago, Jellico native Arlie Spencer died in Cambodia.

10:30 PM, Sep 29, 2012   |    comments
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It may have taken four decades, but a Campbell County native who died in the Vietnam War is being permanently remembered in his hometown.

Arlie Spencer, better known by his nickname "Pete," died in May 1970, after serving a tour in Cambodia. He passed away nearly three years after his high school graduation in Jellico.

On Saturday, the Jellico High School class of 1967 helped permanently remember the man described as "fun-loving" and "happy-go-lucky."

"He can't be with us. He sacrificed more for this than any of us here," said classmate Shann Teague.

Forty-two years since his passing, loved ones who came to Campbell County this weekend said it still hurt to think about "Pete" gone.

"Because we never really knew what happened to him, and that started the ball rolling... seeking anyone in Jellico that remembered Pete, and they just hit on it," said Sgt. Spencer's sister, Sheila.

At the Jellico Cemetery, a flagpole and stone memorial was introduced to Spencer's classmates. More than 20 of them, from across the country, were in the small town for the dedication.

This memorial was sparked by author Robert Gouge, after he  wrote about Sgt. Spencer's experiences in the book, Raiding the Sanctuary.

"(It was) specifically for wives and for children and for family, but I don't think I would've realized how much this project will grow," Gouge said.

After people got word of the research, the next year was spent working how to best honor the fallen soldier. That's when the flagpole was created.

"These people in Jellico are amazing," Sheila said. "They never stopped loving (Sgt. Spencer) and thinking about him and to do this at this point in time, is just full circle."

Sgt. Spencer was buried in Michigan, according to friends, which was where he moved to after his 1967 graduation.

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