After Ann Arbor had turned down our request our committee was approached with offers from several locations around the county. Roy Smith even offered us ground to develop a park of our own in Ypsilanti Township. Our committee discussed and investigated the offers. We met with the Ypsilanti Township Supervisor, Wes Prater, who made an offer the committee could not refuse. A couple weeks after the rejection by Ann Arbor, our committee spoke at the next Ypsilanti Township board meeting. We requested that our Memorial be located at the Ypsilanti Township Civic Center. At the end of our Memorial presentation, everyone in attendance stood up and gave our Memorial group a long, proud and warm standing ovation. The memory of that moment will live forever in the hearts of our committee members and everyone who was in attendance. Our Memorial was greeted by a real ‘Red, White and Blue’ community and unanimously by the Township board and officers. They included; Wesley Prater, Ruth Ann Jamnick, Ethel Howard, Brenda Stumbo, Karen Lovejoy-Roe, J.D. Hall and David Ostrowski.

The Memorial had been given a grand "Welcome Home." The township gave us a 99 year lease to the property around the Memorial. From that moment on our committee did not look back. And that is how the county Vietnam Veterans Memorial came to be proudly located where it is, at the Ypsilanti Township Civic Center.

Our Path To Completion - First Public Viewing od Our Artist Renditon

artistrendSaturday, August 15, 1990, Veterans from all around the county attended a special meeting at the Saline American Legion. Also in attendance were representatives from 15 families of KIAs to be listed on our Memorial. The artist rendition of our Memorial was unveiled for the first time. WWII Veterans Adam Banner and Joe Rodriguez, were speakers that evening. They praised us for doing this for our fallen brothers. Adam Banner had also written a letter to the editor in the Ann Arbor News supporting our efforts.

Joe Rodriguez was our very special supporter. Joe was a proud Marine who had been a member of the squad who raised the famous Flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. He told us that he missed being in the famous photo by Joe Rosenthal because he had been further down the hill retrieving more rocks to help hold up the Flag pole. He is in other larger group photos taken at that time.

Joe was an icon for all of us local Veterans, especially the local Marines. He was our keynote speaker that evening. His message was outstanding. Who better could we have had to support our effort. Months later Joe spoke at our ground breaking too.

Ground Breaking Ceremony

johnkshovelaAt our first meeting with an Ypsilanti Township committee, and I have humorly told this story in public many times, now good friend Ruth Ann Jamnick doing her duty challenged us. She said they do not want a ‘white elephant’ partially erected Memorial on their property. We assuredly told her that would never happen. She did not know us, or our passion to honor our fallen brothers. But she learned well and is a great friend of our Memorial, as all the Township officials and employees. They are very proud to have it located on their grounds.

The groundbreaking was a big event in our process of erecting our Memorial. It was about one year before the dedication of our Memorial on a cold and wet Saturday afternoon. We had a large tent erected where the Memorial now stands. Those who could not fit in the large tent had to stand out in the rain. We had all the Ypsilanti Township Officers and Board members, along with many local Vietnam Veterans and friends in attendance. There were also several family members of those who would be listed and honored on our Memorial.

Again, the speakers messages were very moving and important to hear. WWII Marine Joe Rodriguez, WWII Army Veteran & Ann Arbor First Presbyterian minister Bill Hillegonds, Wesley Praternurse (Ypsilanti Township Supervisor) and other Township officials spoke. A couple of us committee members also spoke. But the most moving speech was by Vietnam War nurse Elizabeth Allen. She was wearing a man’s military type jumpsuit uniform. Ms. Allen who had cared for the wounded and dying in Vietnam told the story of the uniform. It belonged to an injured serviceman under her care. He passed away from his injuries while in her care. She had kept that uniform for over twenty years and for the first time put it on and wore it to the event in his honor. There were no dry eyes in that tent when she finished her speech. Bless you Ms. Allen.

We finished the event by ceremonially digging up some dirt with Gary Lillie’s chrome plated shovel. Representative Kirk Profit, Township officials and committee members all took a turn on the shovel. The erection of our Memorial had officially begun.

Fund Raising

One week after the dedication, we were able to pay Arnet’s Memorial the balance of the total $85,000 cost of the Memorial. For two years we had done events around the county to raise funds and awareness. Our committee can give examples of some of the most moving giving by local folks.


One that we all remember is when we were set up at the Chelsea Fair with our Memorial scale model and table. A young boy gave us his last quarter and another gave us his deposit cans that he had collected. People gave generously to our effort. We never approached the families or the friends of those listed on our Memorial to make a donation. They had given way more than their share with the loss of their loved one.

The largest fundraiser was held at George Beaudette’s Huron Motor Inn. We had a great turnout of folks helping us put on a great pig roast and carnival event. Joe Jamnick, Jimmy Jones and Ira Shaw provided and cooked three pigs for us. Pepsi Cola donated all the soft drinks. George Beaudette donated many items. Johanna and John Sebestyen were two of the primary organizers. Brenda Stumbo played a big role too. We even got her in the dunk tank. She and John Sebestyen dared each other, but she had her swim suit on under her clothes and was a good, and great looking, sport. We raised over $9,000 at that event.

The largest individual contributers were our VVA Chapter 310, Ann Arbor VFW Post 423, many UAW Locals, fraternal orders and individuals. The first UAW Local to donate gave us $1,000. That was from Local 1776, which closed when the GM assembly plant moved from their Willow Run Plant to Texas. Ford Motor Company and General Motors both donated $2,500.00 from their community funds. It was so wonderful that all the money was raised without any tax based funds from any government entities. And every dollar donated went to the construction of our Memorial. We made sure of that.

We had at least another $15,000 in in-kind donations from the many skilled workers who built the massive foundation, the electricians who did the wiring and others getting concrete donated. We owe much to all the skilled trades workers, like Blackie Mull, Fred Viegel, Joe Palazzola, Ron Wear, Ed Anguilim, Roscoe Bryant, John Bristin and others. Without their support, it would have been difficult to complete the project. Then we had the three flag poles donated by Henry Kronner of Michigan Tube Benders of Ypsilanti. That was a wonderful lasting gift.

Once the Memorial was dedicated, we needed to create a beautiful backdrop of trees. VVA 310 member George Boone of Manchester owned a tree farm in Spring Arbor and he donated and planted every tree behind the Memorial. The only exception is the flowering pear planted in memory of a most wonderful Vietnam Veteran’s wife, Theresa Mullins. Her work for Vietnam Veterans brought her VVA state recognition. She truly represented the ideal supporter. Her tree represents the efforts of all the Friends and spouses of all county Vietnam Veterans.

Criteria To Be Listed On The Memorial

As our committee began to form our ideas, we thought about whose names we should list on our Memorial. We stated that the men listed would have to have died in Vietnam, or died as a direct result of their service in Vietnam. We agreed there would be no names on the grounds of anyone still alive, that included each of us. So, we started with the list from the Department of Defense, which indicated some 65 men who according to their records had resided in Washtenaw County at the time of their entry into the military.

We realized early on that we had high schools in our county who had students who lived outside Washtenaw County. We thought that it would not be right to separate men who had gone to school, been friends and played sports together. So, we included the names of six men who had lived outside the county who went to Milan and Lincoln High Schools. There were other exceptions, all unanimously approved by our committee. They include the following.

Frank R. Maki is listed with the DOD as being from Kalkaska, MI. However, he was teaching ROTC classes at Eastern Michigan University before he was deployed to Vietnam. After his death in Vietnam the rifle range at EMU was named after him. His family lived in Ypsilanti and he is buried in an Ypsilanti cemetery.

Rodger O. Terwilliger is listed with the DOD as being from Littleton, CO. He attended school in Ypsilanti until his eleventh grade. His family split up and he moved with his father to Colorado. Many of his high school friends asked us why he was not listed on our Memorial. His minister verified his being from Ypsilanti area and gave us more information about him. His name was added a couple years after the Memorial was dedicated.

Frank L. Keck lived in the Saline area and worked at the Saline Ford Motor plant for a while before being deployed. We believe his wife lived in Saline area for a while after his death. He had friends who informed us about him. We confirmed their information and added his name to our list.

Alan H. Parks lived in an apartment in Manchester with his wife when he was drafted. He was from Bronson, MI. His family still lives in that area. Since he lived in the county before being deployed and was killed in Vietnam, we included his name.

Rickie Sparks lived on the Washtenaw County side of the county line in Clinton. He is DOD listed as being from Clinton, but according to our investigation he was living in Washtenaw County. So he too was included on our list.

There are a couple of area men who died during the Vietnam War, but while they were serving in other parts of the world. Two that came up a few times actually died in accidents, one in Korea and one in the Mediteranian area. They are not listed on the Memorial.

Our search to locate relatives of all those listed on our Memorial began soon after we began our effort. By the time of the dedication we were able to connect with a family member of 72 of the 76 men listed on our Memorial. They all were invited to attend the dedication and representatives of most all of them were able to attend. Some traveled across the country to honor their loved one.

Many of these 76 men had children born while deployed and never had a chance to see them before being killed in Vietnam. Many of those children attended the Memorial dedication and saw that their father was not forgotten.