Warren C. “Buster” Deyermond paid the ultimate sacrifice.
He was just a month shy of his 21st birthday when he was killed while serving in the Vietnam Conflict in July 1969.
His family had expected him home in a few days. Instead, a military honor guard showed up in Andover looking for loved ones to break the news.
On Saturday — amid a steady rain — about 40 to 50 of Deyermond’s family, including his two brothers, gathered to witness the dedication of the new Deyermond Park on Blanchard Street.
They weren’t alone. Young Little Leaguers were on hand to hear stories of Deyermond — a stellar athlete in all sports but baseball in particular, a practical joker and all-around good guy.
Many of those stories were told by grown men who were once Little Leaguers themselves who shared the ballfields of Andover with Deyermond.
Former classmates and friends of Deyermond, including John Gaunt, Tom McCullom, Steve Trachym and Tom and Jeri Marjerison, remembered a young man they all admired and enjoyed growing up with.
“He was just terrific — a great, great kid,” they recalled.
U.S. Army Major General John Deyermond, who also grew up in Andover and is among the highest-ranking members of the military to come out of town, compared his cousin to baseball great Ted Williams — a man who demonstrated unique talent and love of country, whether serving in the military or swinging the bat.
“When I think of Buster, I think of a young man who enjoyed life,” John Deyermond said. “You always knew where Buster was coming from. No hidden agendas, no attempt at one-upmanship. You felt good just to be around him.
“In a word, Buster had character. In life, character counts.”
John Deyermond said service was and remains a way of life in his family. He said his cousin felt the obligation to serve even during a time when it was unpopular to do so.