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Pages 2, 3 and 8 of this section are pictures outlined in green.  These images are linkable.  Click on the picture to read their short Vietnam bio.  Use your browser back button to return.
 
Using the Index at the top of any page allows you to select a specific page without scrolling.
 
Possible Titles
They Will Not Be Forgotten
The Price They Paid
Brothers Not Forgotten
By John Kinzinber (1st. Cav. RTO - Screaming Eagle)
 

This book is dedicated to our local Vietnam War brothers who made the supreme sacrifice and to their families and loved ones who lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, an uncle, a fiance or a good friend in the Vietnam War.  And to all Vietnam Veterans who honorably served in our country's military.

 Preface

At Normandy at the 50th Anniversary observance of the D-Day invasion, Medal of Honor Recipient Walter Ehlers stated “Many of those who enjoy freedom know little of it’s price.” That holds for the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and any other war as well.  He went on to say “We need to talk about it, not for ourselves, but for those who weren’t here, not to the media but to the heirs of our accomplishments, those we did it for.”

This book describes the efforts of a group of Vietnam Veterans to erect a Memorial to honor their 76 local fallen brothers, who made their precious freedom payment for all of us. They are listed on the Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, located at the Ypsilanti Township Civic Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan. This memorial also honors the service of all area Vietnam Veterans.

In addition, a most important part of this book is the section of character sketches of each of the seventy-six men killed or missing-in-action in the Vietnam War from our county. The information in the sketches came from their family members, friends, obituaries and newspaper articles. Each of the men lost were young people with aspirations and dreams for their future. They had an entire life ahead of them, only to be terminated while serving our nation in that war. They were much more than names on a Memorial. The Vietnam War was an unpopular war which many would like to forget. This book was written to help ensure that the sacrifices of these seventy-six men, and their familes, will not be forgotten.

We, our Memorial Committee members, have had many people ask us questions about the Memorial and the effort to erect it. For some people the facts are not clear, or are incorrect. This book should serve as a historical reference covering the entire Memorial project.

For decades after its dedication, the Memorial has been cared for by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 310. As time passes, the number of  VVA members will dwindle.  A perpetual care fund generated about $95,000.00 from about ten years of annual fundraisers and good investments. These funds have been deposited in the Ann Arbor Community Foundation. At the time when the Vietnam Veterans are no longer able to care for the Memorial and the grounds surrounding it, Ypsilanti Township will be able to collect funds from the Foundation to cover the perpetual care costs. Any proceeds from the sale of this book will be deposited in that Foundation account to add to this fund to perpetually care for this Memorial.

Finally, this also is the story of the efforts of our small group of local Vietnam Veterans, supported by our VVA Chapter 310 members, to honor our local fallen brothers. Our Memorial group had no experience in design, speaking, fund raising, etc.  However, we had the desire to see it to completion. We met every week for two years. Meetings were held at Jack McManus’s office, each others’ homes or at community events all around the county. Our focus was fundraising and awareness of our Memorial effort.

As the Chairman of this Memorial since its concept, I feel most qualified to write this book with collaboration with the other Memorial committee members. I sincerely thank Pete Belaire for all his work to compile all the general information on each of the men killed.  Lynda Gladstone, sister of KIA Ronald Koch, and William Villano, Veteran, joined me in putting this book together and it was their persistence and assistance that brought this book to completion.  Thank you all.

As if to be speaking for all Veterans, in his speech Walter Ehlers also said “I pray the price we paid on this beach will never be mortgaged, that my grandsons and granddaughters will never face the terror and horror that we faced here."

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Background

Joe Galloway, co-author of “We Were Soldiers, Once And Young”, wrote the following;

“By day and night they lived, ate, slept, marched together through the boring hours and the terrifying moments of war. When that bond was broken, by death in combat, it was traumatic. Look at the tears on the faces of the middle-aged men standing before a particular panel of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial today, staring at one special name. They weep for someone who was closer than a brother, someone who helped them keep watch through the darkest nights, someone who may have stopped the bullet or the grenade that was meant for them. They weep for someone who was, for a few terrible months, the difference between life and death for them; someone who could never be replaced in their lives”.

“All wars are generally a confession of failure – the failure of society to find some other more appropriate way to resolve disputes than by sending 19-year old boys out to kill other 19-year old boys with rifles – and Vietnam certainly fits that mold. I argue only in favor of the humanity, and yes even the nobility, of the 19-year old boys we sent to fight in Vietnam. We asked far too much of kids just out of high school when we threw them into the cauldron of combat, and when they came home we, as a country, turned our backs on them. Shame on us.”

Before serving in the military, Vietnam Veterans came from all walks of life. Most of us were high school graduates and some were college graduates. Many of us had recently gotten our first full-time job. Some of us had a new car. Most of us had never traveled outside the midwest. More than a third of those listed on our Memorial had gotten married a short time before either being drafted, or enlisting or before going to Vietnam. Most of those men left young children or a pregnant wife as they went off to answer our country’s call to serve.

We had movie idols like John Wayne and Paul Newman. Our favorite musical groups might have been the Beatles or Motown groups like the Temptations. Our sports heroes from that era were the likes of Cassius Clay, Al Kaline and the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers.

When these young people received their draft notice, there were 100,000s of young men being called up from all over the country. Many had friends who were also going into the military. Some of them joined together in the ‘buddy’ system. Each of them, were one of millions of young men and women who proudly wore our nation’s military uniform and served our country in the 60's and early 70's. And each of their personal experiences were unique.

Most of the men and women who served during the Vietnam war came home, went back to work, maybe went to college, got married or were already married and did their best to move forward on their life journey. But there was something missing for all of them, especially in light of their disgraceful welcome home by the American public. That something missing was the special relationship they had made with people they served with during their time in the military. Those were close relationships never again to be experienced outside of the military. Since then, many have found a special organization of people who also served during that period and understood better than any others their personal experience. That organization is the Vietnam Veterans of America.

 

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One of the initial goals of our Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans of America, founded in May 1986, was to erect a memorial to those from our county who had died in the Vietnam War. It was our responsibility to do that for our fallen brothers. About three years after VVA Chapter 310 started, the first meeting of our Memorial Committee was called, which began our two year effort to erect our Memorial.

We six original Memorial committee members came from a variety of military backgrounds and represented a good cross section of Vietnam Veterans. Dennis Davie, from Ypsilanti, was an Army truck driver with the 1st Logistics Command. Milton Davis, from Belleville, was a Marine truck driver with the 1st Marine Air Wing. Paul Dumsch, from Alpena, was an Army armored personnel carrier driver with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. Tom Fifield, from New Hampshire, was an Army helicopter door-gunner and crew chief who flew support for several units. Jack McManus, from New York, was an Air Force airman who loaded defoliants, such as Agent Orange, on the airplanes assigned to the group called Ranch Hand. Tom Smith, from Ann Arbor, was an enlisted man in the Navy. Tom joined the committee about half way through the project. I was from Belleville and served as an Army infantry battalion radio operator with the 1st Cavalry Division.

Each committee member held an office and handled its responsibilities. Our VVA Chapter Board of Directors appointed me as Chairman. Jack McManus and Milton Davis were Co-Vice-Chairmen. Dennis Davie was our secretary and construction chairman. Tom Fifield was our treasurer. Paul Dumsch was our ceremony and events chairman. Tom Smith helped out with all functions. We were also the fundraisers, designers, workers, writers, presenters, etc.

We were honored to have former Governor John B. Swainson as an advisor to our committee. He gave us some important philosophical advice. He also spoke at some of our ceremonies and added some important credibility to our effort. We certainly appreciated his assistance. His being a World War II veteran and a resident of Manchester, Michigan made for a special bond.

It was a two-year effort of love, honor and dedication which began in the early fall of 1989. We met on a weekly basis. None of us had any experience doing anything like this. But we were determined to succeed. We, along with the support of our local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 310, made this project a tremendous success. Just three of our Memorial committee members actually knew any of the men who are listed on this Memorial. But we knew they were not much different than we were. We were blessed to make it back to "The World" to pursue our dreams.

There is an important expression which came from another VVA Chapter member, Jim Uphouse. While visiting the Wall in Washington, D.C., with all of its 58,400 plus names listed on it, Jim was approached by a woman who simply asked if he had known anyone listed on the Wall. Little did she know that Jim had many 101st Airborne military friends and Manchester hometown friends listed on the Wall. He simply told the woman, "Yes, I knew them all."

Little did he know his response would live on forever. Paul Dumsch, Memorial committee member, was moved by that statement so much so that he wrote a very special poem. Paul was with D-Troop 17th Cavalry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade from 1968-69.   Paul, a decorated veteran, had lost several good friends he served with in Vietnam. The poem he authored is titled, "I Knew Them All." It explains how our committee felt about our lost brothers. Thanks Jim for the idea. And thanks Paul for putting the thoughts of our committee into this very moving poem.

I KNEW THEM ALL

"Did you know anyone on this wall?" She asked. " I knew them all." I said

The kid from Boise whose helmet was too big.

The guy whose pants didn't fit.

And the one whose feet hurt,

Cause his boots were too small.

I knew the funny guy from Cleveland.

And the bouncer from Detroit.

We had a guy they called "Head",

He ate with his fingers,

And had a head as big as a basketball.

They weren't the Hollywood phonies,

Like Charlie Sheen or Tom Cruise.

These were men, who had walked the walk.

Some were heroes and some were cowards,

But they were all there.

Some were wounded,

And some died.

Some were bright,

And some were dirt dumb.

They worked in offices,

On ships and firebases.

They fought from the Delta to the DMZ.

They were brave and scared,

And they laughed and cried.

They were nurses and doctors,

Who patched us up,

And we went out again.

They were the best people I'd ever met in my life.

"Did I know any of them?"

"I knew them all."

And so did you.

 

 

 

 

This poem says it all and has been included in every ceremony and observance held at the Memorial. Today, the Memorial is used for patriotic observances and events. It serves as a focal point for all Veterans. Family members and friends often visit throughout the year. Township officials report they see people visiting the Memorial at all times of the day and night. School classes make field trip visits and listen to talks about the Memorial, its purpose and meaning.

 

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VVA CHAPTER 310 AND BACKGROUND

There had been a previous attempt to start a local VVA chapter, but they could not get the 35 members required to apply for a charter from the national organization. About a year later, more local Vietnam Veterans began attending the formation meetings. That was 15-20 years after we had returned home from Vietnam. Most Vietnam Veterans were very skeptical about joining any group at that time. Many reported the terrible reception they experienced when trying to join a VFW or American Legion Post. We wondered what VVA could offer us. But what we found was what we had been missing since our service during the Vietnam War. We found a group of proud Veterans who were much like those we had served with during the War. Our Memorial committee members were among the first members of the local VVA Chapter. We got hooked and got involved.

Our Washtenaw County VVA chapter received its charter from the national organization in May of 1987, and since was twice awarded “National Chapter of the Year.” The inauguration ceremony at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti. Former Michigan Governor and World War II Veteran John B. Swainson made the presentation to our VVA President, Tim Armentrout.

Our inauguration day was a beautiful sunny day. Nearby Haab’s restaurant prepared nicely roasted chicken and we had all the trimmings. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Proudly we knew it was the beginning of something special for local Vietnam era Veterans. We were a group of about 35 men and women who had one thing in common. We had proudly served during the Vietnam War. We did not know each other during our military service. But we had a special respect and bond one veteran to another. Only those who were a member of our group of Veterans could understand.

Our side was winning the War when the last of the ground fighting units were pulled out of South Vietnam in 1972. But lacking support from our government, as promised in the Paris Peace agreement, Saigon fell in 1975. It was the reneging D.C. politicians and the anti-war movement who lost that War. But Vietnam Veterans were annointed with the guilt of ‘losing’ it. Upon our return, the loss was placed on our shoulders by our country. We were reminded often about all of the terrible things we supposedly did while we served. This gave the families of those killed or MIA had an even tougher cross to bear. Hopefully, history will explain just how the Korean and Vietnam Wars haulted the communist movement through that area of the world, and helped with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Vietnam Veterans were sent home alone with no effort to prepare them for what they would face. We were easy prey. We were alone. Most of us just crawled into a shell, ashamed to say we proudly served our nation. We were denied feeling good about our military service. A personal experience of mine happened in the fall of 1968. This was about six months after my discharge from the Army. I was attending a required liberal arts class at Eastern Michigan University. It was at the end of the week and the instructor urged us all to attend the anti-war rally in Ann Arbor that evening. Deep within my soul I could not process the thought of doing that. Young Americans like me were over in Vietnam at that time doing the tough work our nation asked them to do. It just did not compute with me. It was a reality slap in the face for me, which I am sure happened to most returning Vietnam Veterans. Once I was promoted to a salary position at Ford Motor Company, I felt it best to not tell anyone that I had served in Vietnam for fear it could hurt my Ford career.

VFWs and American Legions did not welcome us with open arms. These issues and other things contributed to the tens of thousands of Vietnam Veterans who took their lives after they came home. Even today, many thousands are still fighting the impact that war had on them and the poor welcome home reception they had esperienced.

A couple decades passed,before we found others like us when we joined a local Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter. We now had our own organization of people who accepted us and welcomed us with a warm "Welcome Home." We could meet and know it would be a friendly place with friendly people who understood and cared. VVA has brought pride to hundreds of thousands who served in the military during those war years. VVA represents all Vietnam War era Veterans.

It was during our formation that our Washtenaw County VVA Chapter 310 established five goals. They were the following.

1. Increase membership and make new members feel welcome.

2. Assist Chapter members in need.

3. Do public service and awareness to improve the image of Vietnam Veterans.

4. Own our own building.

5. Erect a Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans memorial.

 

It took a couple years to get started on our Memorial project. It had always been a topic of discussion at our monthly Chapter meetings. We had no experience in our membership to take on a project like that. But we knew one thing; it was up to us to lead the effort to erect a memorial to remember our local young men, who had made the ultimate sacrifice for our county. We wanted our lost brothers to not be forgotten. We wanted their names listed in a group forever to remind our local communities of the cost of that war to our county, and not be single grave markers spread around in different cemeteries.

These men killed serving in the Vietnam War would have been fathers, workers, teachers and probably some wonderful leaders in our communities today. The dreams of their parents for their children were robbed from them. Their parents would forever daily mourn the loss of their sons. Our Chapter wanted their names to be remembered into eternity in a special way. That was the greatest driver for our Memorial committee during the entire fate-lead two year project.

Ronald_Lee_Koch-ChelseaAs we met the parents of those killed, it fueled our committee’s drive to complete the project. Several of the family members came forward and wanted to help our committee. The families are really the forgotten casualties of that war. Most had a memorial place in their home to honor and remember their loved one, while the rest of our country went on seemingly forgetting the sacrifices made for them. Some made unsolicited donations, like the family of Ronald Koch (left) who early on made a $500 donation, and others helped research family contacts. Most importantly they gave the committee moral support during the two-year effort. Many parents and loved ones of those killed became close friends of ours during this effort. We will always share a special bond, for together we made this Memorial a reality.

As a group, none of our committee members were businessmen or community leaders. We were from regular blue collar families. We always had each other for support and we kept our focus on our goal.

In forming our Memorial committee, we had brought something special together. We had a shared vision of which we never lost sight of during the two years we met weekly and brought the Memorial to reality. We had divine intervention assist us several times during this effort. We just felt there was nothing that could stop us from succeeding in our endeavor of love for our local fallen brothers.

In the fall of 1989, our local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter was well established and in good standing financially, in character and in number of members. It was time to begin the work on our Memorial goal. But where should we start? We all needed the long-term support and understanding of our wives and families. We knew it would take a lot of time within the two-year business plan we established.

In the fall of 1989, a meeting was scheduled for all interested Chapter members to start discussing the project. We six Vietnam Veterans showed up for that first meeting in the Unibar Corporation conference room. Jack McManus was Chairman of Unibar, so we had a good place to meet. This was the beginning of the weekly meetings we held for the next two years.

Soon after that first meeting, we enlisted the advisor support of World War II veteran and former governor of Michigan, John B. Swainson. None of us had any idea of the enourmous task before us. We were just regular people. Our committee consisted of an electrician, a tool maker, a heavy equipment repairman, an airplane mechanic, a CEO and an engineer. We had no thought of anything else, but succeeding.

We set up the different officers of our committee. I felt comfortable leading our group and the other committee members accepted me as the Chairman. We rolled up our sleeves and began working. Our success was driven by our need to honor our brothers left behind in that war.

We were determined to do it our way. Since we had little experience, we researched the construction of other Vietnam War memorials in southeast Michigan. We talked with the organizers and got from them as much information as we could. Then we got started. What should it look like? What kind of statement did we want to make with its design? How big should it be? How much of a Memorial can we afford? What criteria will we use to approve a name to be listed on it? And…

We got started by sketching some lines on paper. Then we could begin to think about it, discuss it and modify it as it seemed appropriate. We cut and glued styrofoam making a model of our vision. For example, one evening as we were putting lines on paper, someone asked “how tall should it be.” We looked around Jack’s conference room and said, “why not as tall as the ceiling in this room.” And that is how we established its height.

As we were working out our design, we established some specific principles we would hold to at all cost. The principle we established first was once we decided on the design, there would not be any significant changes made. Very early in the design process we realized that completing the Memorial design we desired would take at least $75,000. We swore that no matter what, our design would not be compromised because of concerns about fundraising. We held to that principle except for one thing. We later decided that gold leaf lettering would greatly enhance the names on the Memorial. What better way to be remembered than in bold gold letters. That added about $3,500.00 to the cost. We felt it was necessary and included it in our design criteria. Today, decades later, the lights at night and the sunshine at sunrise reflect off the gold letters in a way that emblazens their names in your mind. They will not be forgotten.

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Sun ReflectionAt Sunrise - 2013

Another principle was that each and every penny donated would go to the construction of the Memorial. There would be no administrative costs taken from the donations. Our committee members covered the costs: like Milton Davis built about a quarter scale Memorial replica that was mounted on a trailer that we took to events all around the county. Jack McManus covered costs like food and refreshments at the pre-dedication event for the families and the dinner afterwards in the Civic Center. This principle was so important to us, that my family personally covered about $3,000 in different administration costs over the two years. Every committee member donated to the effort. It was important to us that every penny donated go toward the actual building of the Memorial.

A further principle was that only the names of our local KIAs and MIAs (below) would be eligible to be listed anywhere on our Memorial site. Later we added the names of deceased VVA 310 members along the walkway. We also chose to randomly list the names for each city.

We did this because if we added a name at the bottom, which we did for Rodger Terwilliger and David Wagner, it would not look out of place. We did place some names next to each other as they were high school friends.

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We wanted to make this a place for reflection and remembrance. So very early in the design process we decided our Memorial would have a seating area. This is unique for memorials. We thought it was important for people to be able to sit, while they remembered an individual listed on it, and also to think about the real cost of war.

We also incorporated several symbolism aspects into the design.  They are:

1. The Memorial faces to the southeast for Southeast Asia.

2. The five wall portions represent the five branches of service. And from above they form two V-shapes for Vietnam Veterans.

3. The distance from the outside of the seating area to the outside of the wall is 21 feet, which is the average age of the men listed on the Memorial.

4. The almost black Pennsylvania granite represents the mourning by everyone who visits the Memorial. It also reminds one of The Wall in D.C.

5. The gold lettering helps give these men lost in Vietnam a regal place in our memories so they are not forgotten.

There were three MIAs, so we made the seating area three sided. On each of the three sides was placed the name of one of our MIAs. We knew then that when their remains were returned, we would so indicate near their name on the seating area. Their names would not be on the Wall portion until they came home. The Wall portion would be for those who were killed in acton, and not missing-in-action.

We decided to list the names by community in random order. This was done in case a name had to be added. A couple years later that in fact did happen as Rodger Terwilliger was added and no one knows the difference from looking at it. After David Wagener’s remains were returned in 1997, we put his name on the Wall at the bottom of the Ann Arbor list and it too does not look out of place.

 

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Why Is The County Memorial Located At The Ypsilanti Township Civic Center?

During the early weeks of establishing the design, committee members traveled around the county looking for the most appropriate location. We considered several criteria including geographic location within the county, visibility of the location, local population density with a strong consideration for the county seat. We agreed, even though it was one of our nation’s greatest anti-war capitals, the most appropriate location fitting our criteria, without exception, was Ann Arbor’s Veterans Memorial Park. We discussed the potential of having problems erecting a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ann Arbor. But we agreed historically it was the most appropriate location.

We approached the City of Ann Arbor through the Parks Advisory Commission. I attended a Parks Advisory meeting at the Gallop Park facility on June 19, 1990 to request the advisory committee review our Memorial proposal at their next meeting. The process required that we submit a request before that meeting, allowing the Chairperson, Peg Molin, to prepare some early questions. She had been informed that not all county Veterans organizations would approve our request. We were not prepared to answer those questions at that first meeting. Only one person was allowed to speak on behalf of our Memorial request. Example questions from her were: "Do you have the support of the other county Veterans organizations?" and "Do you have the approval of the families of those you plan to list on this Memorial?" She asked for letters of support from all the families of the KIAs, even though she stated that she knew of two families who would not support it. Such questions made it obvious this was going to be an uphill effort. As I spoke, I saw that Chairperson Molin had a County Council of Veterans pamphlet in front of her. That listed all of the county organizations. This indicated to me she had been prepped by someone. I was just interested in getting approval to present at the next month’s meeting. It was supposed to be a five minute meeting, but went on for about 20 minutes.

After the first Parks Advisory Commission meeting, I was interviewed by an Ann Arbor News reporter. From that I learned a lifelong lesson not to say anything you would not want edited and printed in an article. I had mentioned the ‘Baby Killer’ stereotype we were pinned with. In the first paragraph of that first article, the reporter gave it a negative slant, quite different from what I had said. After that we gave them only carefully worded information with no negative tone.

At the next meeting on July 17, 1990, I was accompanied by VVA chapter members and Memorial Committee members. We responded positively to the questions asked of us the previous month. Yes, we had the support of the Veterans organizations. We had gotten an 11-3 County Council of Veterans vote in support of our project. The Chelsea VFW, Ypsilanti VFW and Ypsilanti American Legion were the negative votes. We were also able to report that we had contacted the majority of the families of those to be listed on the Memorial, and they were in favor of our project.

We found the general discussion by many of the senior members of the Advisory Committee to be negative toward erecting our Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park. Examples of their comments included: “Have you considered putting it in a cemetery?” and “Children play in the park, which is not a good place for a Memorial” and “There is too much ambient noise in that park for a Memorial like this,” and “If we allow you to erect your Memorial there, before long we could have rusty tanks and cannons all over Veterans Memorial Park.” Heaven forbid there be tanks and cannons in Veterans Memorial Park.

The younger members of the Advisory Committee seemed much more receptive and understanding. The Parks Advisory Committee requested more time to consider the request and wanted a better description of the Memorial.

Before the third meeting I went to Parks Director Ron Olsen’s office and asked him for a copy of the City Council minutes from the meeting when Veterans Memorial Park was named. The Advisory Committee later used his interpretation of that wording against our request. I should not have requested a copy of that from him.

Mr. Olsen’s interpretation of the 1955 Council Resolution just coincidentally fell in line with the apparent wishes of the desenting members of the Parks Advisory Commission. These were obviously folks who did not wish our Memorial to be in Veterans Memorial Park. Mr. Olsen stated his interpretation was that the name alone is all that should be in the park to honor veterans. See what you think …

(April 7, 1955 Ann Arbor Common Council, page 1012)

“… It is recommended that the former Washtenaw County Fairgrounds excepting the portion to be leased to the Washtenaw Farm Council, be named the “Veterans Memorial Park”. It is believed that when this park is developed it will provide a suitable expression of the gratitude which this community feels and holds for all the veterans of all wars.”

There was major newspaper coverage throughout the efforts of our Memorial committee in our quest to have our Memorial located in Veterans Memorial Park. Prior to the next meeting, even mayor Gerald Jernigan sent a letter to the Parks Commission members urging them to approve our request. Activel local WWII Veteran Adam Banner attempted to read the mayor’s letter at the final Parks Advisory meeting, but the Chairman denied his request.

At that final meeting in August 1990 we committee members presented a beautifully painted artist’s rendition of our proposed Memorial design. It was painted by Vietnam Veteran and accomplished wildlife artist Paul Butala. We continued to field questions by the Advisory Committee members.

 


 

 

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Mrs. Brown (son Charles above left) and Mrs. McIntire, (son Walter above right) mothers of men from Ann Arbor killed in Vietnam,  requested to join our group at this meeting. On that day there were only seven members of the larger Parks Advisory Commission in attendance. There were more members missing at this meeting than there had been at the previous two meetings combined. A World War II veteran, George Sexton, who had been vocal against the project, substituted for the absent Chairperson Molin. During this final meeting, Mr. Sexton seemed to be gloating during our presentation and the unveiling of our artist’s rendition of our Memorial. It was like our reception by WWII Veterans when we came home from Vietnam. It seemed as if he knew how the vote was going to end up before the meeting started. He was obviously against the proposal from the beginning and made his feelings known by his actions in a very inconsiderate and unprofessional manner. Mr. Sexton seemed to even kill some time for the seventh member to get to the meeting. The late member voted against us without even hearing our presentation. It was a setup. After we completed our presentation, the Advisory Committee voted whether or not to recommend the City Council allow the erection of the, free to the city, Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park.

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As the vote of the Advisory members proceeded around the table, I held the hands of Mrs. McIntire and Mrs. Brown. All of us were hoping for a “thumbs up” vote. The vote was quite even as it went around the table. And as it got to the last voters, Mrs. McIntire's grip on my hand increased dramatically. It was obvious to me how much this vote meant to her and Mrs. Brown. Our request was defeated as the vote ended up 4 against and 3 for recommending it go to the City Council. The final decenting vote came from the Acting Chairperson Sexton. At that moment I swear that Mrs. McIntire started to get up to go over and beat Mr. Sexton with her umbrella. I held her back. Those who voted against our request were Austin Anderson, Charlene Berels, Bob Elton and George Sexton. Their voting seemed to have been fixed before the meeting.

We discussed the fact that the WWII Veteran and Korean War voted against the Memorial. We thought it may have been jealousy that they did not erect one for their war dead. But they came home heroes and we did not, we came home to demonstrations. Maybe what we were just wanting was something they wanted to forget.

Those who voted to accept our request to erect our Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park were Linda Carver, Jane Lumm and Susan Schmunk. The two non-voting City Council members in attendance seemed split on supporting the Memorial. Councilman Nelson Meade appeared against it and Councilwoman Ingrid Sheldon was for it.

It was interesting that the three who voted for it were younger women who seemed to relate to the Vietnam War more than the four older members present at this last meeting. There was great dejection felt by all the Vietnam Veterans, family members and friends who were present. As proudly as we could, we rose and left the meeting. Our Memorial group felt betrayed and felt we had experienced an evil setup of votes by the Commission. It was crushing to us and it seemed to open up twenty year old Ann Arbor anti-war scars.

I feel that the plaque in the county building is symbolic of where Vietnam Veterans seem to have stood in Ann Arbor and the county. It was originally just for Korean War and WWII names of those killed from Washtenaw County. The Vietnam KIAs were later added on brass tags screwed on at the margins of the large bronze plaque.

Our Memorial committee immediately held a meeting to begin discussing our next step. We and the two mothers met and talked over things at a nearby restaurant. We discussed whether we should go ahead and try to get the Ann Arbor City Council to override the Park Advisory Commision’s decision. Our committee knew if we succeeded we would have to go back and deal with the same Parks Advisory Commission. Because of that, we decided to look for another location for our beloved Memorial. Chet Brown, Ann Arbor fireman and father of Ann Arbor KIA Charles “Chuckie” Brown, even told us we should go elsewhere, “you would not want to have the Memorial defaced by some anti-war radicals. Can you imagine how you would feel if you drove by it and noticed that it had been all painted up?”

For the next few weeks in the newspaper and on local radio programs people criticized the decision of the Parks Advisory Commission and the City of Ann Arbor. We Memorial Committee members decided to not make negative statements. We let the general public do the talking for us.

It is interesting to point out that In 2014, a skateboard park was erected on the exact spot where we had pictured erecting our Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Sort of symbolic of the Ann Arbor attitude for our Memorial.

 


 

 Letter from Mayor Jernigan to Peg Molin dated July 11, 1990 read:

“I believe that the park should have a site which recognizes our war veterans because without them we might not have a park at all. The memorial requested by the Vietnam Veterans would not be an indication of support for that conflict, but a recognition of the great sacrifices made by many people and their families in our community.”

Letter from former Governor Swainson to Peg Molin stated:

“If as reported, the Vietnam Veterans are willing to bear the cost of providing a suitable monument to the sacrifice of those personally involved, then we as citizens should honor their request and support their desire to memorialize those efforts.”

“I would hope that the Advisory Commission would work with the Washtenaw Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans in providing a suitable location for such a monument, and certainly Ann Arbor Veterans Memorial Park would be that place.”

Letter From WWII Veteran and Reverend, William Hillegonds:

(This note was attached to the following letter.)

John: I was a little sorry to see you give up the fight for space at Vets’ Park. But I’m sure your committee knows best. Enclosed is a copy of the letter I sent Ingrid Sheldon and Peg Molin. I also talked with Ingrid and plan to talk with Peg. Thanks for all the affirming words. Bill.

August 22, 1990

Councilperson Ingrid Sheldon

Dear Councilperson Sheldon,

I attended yesterday a meeting of the Parks Advisory Commission in the Conference Room of Gallup Park. I attended in order to show my support to the people present who advocate the placing of a Viet Nam War Memorial in Vets’ Park.

First, I did not agree with the conclusion to which the Commission came. But that’s democracy. Matters get decided by 4 to 3 votes even though 10 of 13 Veterans organizations in the county endorsed the idea and the staff report of Parks and Recreation Administration seemed totally insensitive to the real issue involved in the request by the Viet Nam Vets.

Second, I have never before been at a meeting at which the Chair (George Sexton) seemed so preordained not to listen to what members of the Commission or people who were the guests of the Commission were present to say about the matter on the table for discussion. I watched the Chair as the artist’s rendition of the proposed Memorial was unveiled (I had seen it before and studied it carefully and therefore was free to watch people’s reaction to its unveiling.) and I don’t think he gave it the benefit of even the slightest glance. From that moment on it was obvious where the Chair was in his thinking. He had cast his vote even before a vote was called for.

I am writing to say how much I deplore that kind of public hearing. That people disagree in our kind of society is a given. Thank God for that privilege. But I believe the kind of intellectual stubbornness I witnessed at yesterday’s meeting is a threat to the very thing we say is so precious to Americans: the right not only to be listened to but to be listened to in such a way that we are heard.

As a registered Republican and as a resident of the Ward in which you serve as Councilperson, I trust you felt enough of what I felt yesterday to call the matter to your caucus when it next meets.

Sincerely,

Bill Hillegonds

(Bill was the lead minister at the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor and a WWII Army D-Day Army Veteran.)

Letter From Mrs. Brown, Mother Of Ann Arbor KIA Charles Brown:

The time has come that I can no longer stand back and say nothing, while a very special group of young men try to get a memorial built honoring the boys of Washtenaw County who died or are still missing in Vietnam.

As I understand it, what the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee are asking of the Ann Arbor Parks Advisory Commission is a spot of land in Veterans Memorial Park to build a memorial. They are not asking for money to build with, nor are they asking for the Commission to maintain it. They have only asked for permission to build a memorial in an appropriate place “Veterans Memorial Park.”

The reason it has been refused (to me it is no reason at all) “Veterans Park was dedicated to all Veterans we can’t have special groups putting up memorials or others may want to build.” So be it! If others are interested in working and raising money for a memorial, let there be monuments in Veterans Memorial Park!

I am sure the baseball players and the winter sledders wouldn’t mind sharing some space with memorials dedicated to the people whom have gone to war to fight for our way of life.

I would like to answer some of Mark R. Lindke’s letter which appeared in the Reader’s Viewpoint last week. Mark it was very nice of you to defend your mother’s (Peg Molin) position. I will never be able to enjoy my son defending me again, as he was killed in Vietnam in defense of all of us Americans. He was 20 years old.

You say you are a Veteran of the Vietnam Era, what does that mean exactly? If we were alive between 1959-1975 we are all Veterans of that Era, but it doesn’t mean we were in the service.

You say you were a spectator at the Parks Advisory Commission meeting and was impressed with the dignity, compassion, respect, etc., at that meeting. What I saw was very different from your view. I don’t intend to lump everyone in the same category as the Acting Chairperson, whom was very rude to Mr. Adam Banner when he asked to read a letter from Mayor Jernigan. The Acting Chairperson said in effect “they would deal with the issue as Peg Molin would expect.”

It was announced that only one person from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee would be allowed to speak. The meeting was late starting, while Mr. Kinzinger was presenting his case and answering point by point every issue that had been raised by the commission, it seemed to me that the acting chairperson was mentally humming and snapping his fingers; at some time the chair told a long rambling story that if there was a point to it even the teller seemed to have forgotten by the end. It may have been to KILL TIME until the LATE TIE BREAKING VOTER ARRIVED, who then CAST his NO VOTE WITHOUT HEARING the presentation from the Vietnam Veterans Committee. IS THIS WHAT IS CALLED DIGNITY, COMPASSION and RESPECT?

In conclusion, I still do not have a reasonable answer for all the people who have asked me “WHY A PLOT OF GROUND IN VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK HAS BEEN DENIED Charlie Brown and all his fellow brothers” by the Ann Arbor Parks Advisory Commission.

(Signed) Lois W. Brown


 

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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.

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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.

 


 

 

Keystone Memorials of Georgia and Arnet’s Memorials of Ann Arbor

Our committee worked out our design with Arnet’s Memorial and made our initial payment and they got to work on our project. We wanted the stone to be as dark as possible, but also come from the United States. Arnet’s Memorials of Ann Arbor had Keystone Memorials in Elberton, Georgia (about 100 miles from Atlanta), cut the stone sections.

The starting block of dark gray granite was about 3 foot by 9 foot by 9 foot and weighed about 58,000 pounds. It came from a quarry in Pennsylvania.6 It was transported to Keystone on a flat bed truck. On April 20, 1991, I was able to travel down there and be toured around the cutting and polishing process by owner Tom Oglesby. At that time they had just begun the first parallel cuts for our Memorial in the massive granite block. With a diamond slurry flowing over it, they used two parallel long wires, that actually ran a long ways outside the building to cool before returning to the cutting surface. After 6 to 8 hours, this slow parallel abrasion cutting would go all the way through the massive block. The parallel slab would then be cut in the required pieces with the proper angles. Then all the surfaces would be polished. It was then shipped to Arnet’s Memorial in Ann Arbor where they cut the names into the stone and applied the gold leaf to the letters.

After the massive cement foundation was completed, the pieces were transported to and erected at the Memorial site.

  

Dedication Ceremony

Our Committee planned for the best dedication we could. Jack McManus, then VVA State Council President, arranged to have their monthly meeting in the Ypsilanti area the weekend of our dedication. That brought VVA Chapter Color Guard units from all across the state to the dedication. There must have been 300 Veterans in uniforms, with almost as many Flags.

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westmoreland close up

It was a cool November 10th, but much nicer than the week preceding. We were blessed with a nice day and all the preliminary work and planning paid off. Everything went off even better than planned. We estimated there were about 600 family members of those listed on the Memorial present. The total attendance was between 2,500 and 3,000.


Before the ceremony, we set up a ‘meet and greet’ between the family members of those listed on the Memorial and General William Westmoreland, our keynote speaker. There were many photographs taken. There were donauts and refreshments there too.

Fate was involved in the General being there. Jim Uphouse, VVA 310 member, and a member of the airborne unit that was named after the General had a number to reach him. After a few calls I connected with him. I had the chance to see him in the field in Vietnam, so that was special for me. He said he would be honored to speak at our dedication. His only stipulation was that we fly him from Charleston and back the same day, so he would not be away from his wife that night. After much searching I connected with Connie Kalitta Flying Service at Willow Run. They offered to send a plane from Nashville to Charleston, pick up the General, hold the plane at Willow Run to return the General back to Charleston after the event. That at no cost to us. Divine intervention again.

The entire time he was on the ground here Jim Uphouse served as his aide. Jim could still fit in his sharp 101st Airbourne uniform and looked sharp.

The General’s speech was right on point and appreciated by all in attendance. Some unforgetable remarks he made included the likes of “I would be remiss by not remembering that this day is the Marine Corps birthday” and “I can still fit in my uniform.”

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W4 Country’s “Sgt. Dave Kelly” (left, next to Gen. Westmoreland) was the Master of Ceremony for the dedication. Dave served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam. He did a splendid job. His comment about watching the shoreline of Vietnam dropping off in the horizon as their jet headed back to “The World” was most memorable. He said that he thought he would not see Vietnan again. But he followed up with, “Today, twenty years later, I just close my eyes and I can see it vividly. It is not gone.” That hit us Vietnam Veterans right on.

Besides the above and myself, other speakers included Wes Prater, Ruth Ann Jamnick and other township officials, VVA 310 President Leroy Paige and others.

 

 

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But, most moving was Woodrow Hunter who spoke representing all the families of those listed on the Memorial. Mr. Hunter was a retired University of Michigan full professor and a retired Army Lt. Colonel. He served in WWII in the European Theater. His son Michael (below left) was killed in Vietnam on January 28,1970.

How It Feels To Lose A Son In War

michael_hunter_-AIt is a privilege for me to speak on behalf of all the families of the Washtenaw County men who were killed in Viet Nam. And tell you how it feels as a parent of one who made the supreme sacrifice for his country.

Having made the supreme sacrifice makes your son and mine very special persons. It goes without saying that my son was a special person for many other reasons. Michael (pictured left) was intelligent, kind, cheerful, loyal, and above all he cared deeply for other people.

I can’t imagine the torment he felt when it became necessary to kill other human beings. Indeed he wrote telling his mother and me how tormented he felt. Toward the end of his tour he talked more and more about the awful character of the War in Vietnam, and how much he wanted it to be over so that he could come home.

We have a picture of our son sent to us by one of his buddies. He is standing in front of his sand bag bunker. Nothing unusual about this, but he looked so weary, much much older and so serious. This was unusual for Mike, who always had a smile for everyone.

Despite the obvious toll the war was taking on him he never wanted to quit. Indeed he said, “I have a job to do and I intend to finish it.”

None of this will surprise any of you. Wars have always left their mark physically and mentally on those who fought them.  Our son wrote his last letter to say that he expected to be home in two weeks, you can imagine how thankful we were. We thought our prayers had been answered.  The next thing we knew there was an officer standing at our door to tell us that our son had been killed when his helicopter had been shot down.

As I stand here I must confess mixed emotions: a deep and lasting grief that never seems to go away, but also a deeply felt pride that our son thought enough of his country to make a supreme sacrifice.

I know I speak for my children and grand children, who are here and all of you when I say how much it means to have had the Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee conceive and create a permanent Memorial to our sons.

Here for as long as we will live we have a place to come, and a monument to see, a place which gives evidence of the sacrifices that were made, and long after we are gone it is fitting that all who pass by this place will pause and reflect on the Vietnam War and all who fought it.

The one good Friend of us all has eased my pain. My prayer is that he will ease your pain and keep you in his care.

I thank you.

Mr. Woodrow Hunter

 


 

The area community came out strong to help us with the dedication ceremony. The following are some of those who so nicely donated their time and work for us. Thank you all.

The Lincoln High School band came out and played patriotic songs.

“Fat” Bob Taylor, former Detroit Red Wing National Anthem singer sang the National Anthem and “God Bless America”.

McNamara Rental provided the large tent for the family members.

Robert Nalli of Nalli Music provided the tremendous sound system.

Executive Limosine of Ann Arbor provided travel for General Westmoreland from the Willow Run airport and back.

Grand Ledge National Guard Helicopter unit provided the four ship flyover that began the ceremony at 1pm.

Buglers came from HQ Army Reserve 70th Div. Training, Livonia

Sakstrup Towing was there in case of vehicle problems.

WAAM radio personality Lucy Ann Lance broadcast on site.

Golf Carts for elderly transport were from Green Oaks Golf Course.

Protestant, Catholic and Jewish Religious leaders blessed the Memorial. Since, Gordon Moore has presided at every event held at the Memorial.

The triangular folded Flag placed at the Memorial during the ceremony was that of Saline’s KIA Russell Michalke. It was donated by his fiancee with permission granted by his parents.

An Indian group blessed the warriors listed on the Memorial with their drum performance.

U of M ROTC Cadet Tim Bowens presented a check for $2,000 at the ceremony to us from a fund raiser they did for us.

Washtenaw County Sheriff Department was present, led by Lt. Jim Fink, in case there were any demonstration issues or such.

75 Flags (3 by 5 foot) covered the area attached to tents and wherever they could be fixed. One for each name on the Memorial.

Nearby was a beautifully organized field of 75 white crosses made by VVA 310 member Jerry Sims. Each cross had a small American Flag next to it, except for three which had a POW MIA flag next to it.

In a well practiced precision manner with crisp movements led by Lyle Avery, VVA 310 members officially raised the Flags for the first time at the Memorial. Their practice and concern was evident.

Near the end of the cermony, parents of those listed on the Memorial who had been with us throughout the Memorial process unveiled it. Eugenia Fuller, Chester and Lois Brown, Della and Walter McIntire, Grace and Dayle McKenzie removed the large black covering. What a wonderful moment that was for all of us. We had achieved our goal and were very proud of the results. That was a most glorious day. We thank all who helped us along the way.

After the ceremony was completed with many photographs taken, the General, our Memorial committee and Township officials had a wonderful lunch and lots of small talk in the Civici Center paid for by Jack McManus.

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David Wagener (MIA – Remains Returned)

David’s Air Force plane was shot down in 1966. When the Memorial was planned, as he was one of our local Missing-In-Action, his name was put on one section of the seating area.  After his remains were returned Capt. Wagener's name was etched on the Memorial

Our VVA Chapter 310 annually sends Christmas cards to family members of those on our Memorial. After receiving her 1997 card, Beverly Wagener, David’s wife living in the Seattle, Washington area, contacted us that David’s remains had been identified. He was laid to rest in a National Cemetery in the Seattle area. We then had ‘Remains Returned 1997’ added below his name on that seat section. We also had his name put the Wall portion at the bottom of the list from Ann Arbor.

 

 

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Beverly (above) attended our 1998 Memorial Day observance at our Memorial when we dedicated the above changes to our Memorial. She was impressed with our remembrance observance showed greater care and dignity than she experienced at the Seattle cemetery. She has been a tremendous Friend of our Chapter and Memorial ever since, as she mails a donation or two each year to cover the costs for the flowers at the Memorial.

The Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Inc. was incorporated in 1998.   This new organization was a not-for-profit 501 (C)(3) organization. The Board of Directors were from our VVA chapter 310 and family members of those listed on the Memorial. We will direct the spending of these funds to best care for this Memorial on into the future.

My Speech at the Dedication

jkmessageaWhat a glorious day. We are very happy to see the large number of family members here today. I know some of you traveled from a long distance, from as far away as California, Arizona, Washington, North Carolina, Nevada, etc. It is great to have you all here.

Two years ago our group of Vietnam Veterans began meeting and decided on this as our dream. One year ago we had our ground breaking on this site. And today we are here to dedicate the Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

It is not a statement for or against the Vietnam War. It is rather a place for all the people of our communities to come and pay honor and tribute to all Vietnam Veterans, men and women, from Washtenaw County, and especially the 72 men who made the supreme sacrifice for our country and the 3 still Missing-In-Action.

This is a Veterans Memorial – not a war Memorial. It is a place where we can come to reflect on our own memories and continue the healing process; a place where family members and friends can come to honor the memories of their loved ones; a place where school children in the future can come and see the reality of history and learn from it. It is our hope that the sacrifices of these men, and their families, will never be forgotten. That is why, we are all gathered here today.

This Memorial was made possible through the dedication, loving concern and generosity of the people from all the communities of Washtenaw County and the surrounding area.

We are proud of this fact … No state or local taxbased funds were used for this project. You, the people of Washtenaw County built this Memorial.

My committee and all Vietnam Veterans, would like to thank all of the people, businesses, veterans, civic and labor organizations, who donated money, time, material, ideas, a shoulder to lean on, and an ear to listen. What you see here today would not have been possible without your care and concern. We thank the families who lost a loved one for understanding and helping us. It’s been an honor and a privilege to know you all.

Thank you to the young boy, who picked up a quarter at the Chelsea Fair near our display, and asked, if he could put it in our donation jug. Then as he walked away juggling his treasure of four empty pop cans, he turned and came back to us, and asked if we would cash them in and donate the forty cents to the Memorial.

Thank you to the Officers and Trustees of Ypsilanti Township: Wesley Prater, Ethel Howard, Ruth Ann Jamnick, Brenda Stumbo, Karen Roe, J.D. Hall and David Ostrowski, who gave this Memorial this honored place and a true “Welcome Home.” And thank to the other Township people, Chuck, Ted, Doug, Joe and many others.

Thank you to the volunteer laborers who did the construction work. Thank you to the many people who helped us with our fundraising efforts. It was a lot of work and many long hours, but we had fun.

Thank you, General Westmoreland for being a part of our Dedication ceremony. To all of you Vietnam Veterans – you, who know why we are here today. Welcome Home. Thank you to the many people who wrote us letters of support when we needed them. Thank you to the media people who gave us print and air time to spread the word about thie Memorial throughout the county. This list could go on forever. Thank you all for making this dream a reality. And most of all – Thank you to our families.

Family, we will be home tonight.

God Bless each and every one of you.

Thank you from all of us.

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