Saturday, September 29, 2012

South Dakota VI

After leaving McLaughlin, I moved on into North Dakota to find sites there, but when I was finished in the north (see previous posts from North Dakota) I realized I had enough time to head to southwestern South Dakota. I visited the usual tourist stops like Mt. Rushmore and The Crazy Horse Memorial, but I, also, discovered that in Sturgis, the home of the annual bike rally, there was a small memorial at the Veteran's Club. It was an interesting time to visit the area. the bike rally which draws thousands and thousands of riders every year was about to begin. Just days away, the streets of the town had exploded with bike oriented posters, signs and shops. It was great fun to be in a place where so many looked a lot like me! Now, I can say, with complete honesty, that my bike and I went to Sturgis! Just not together! The guy I bought my Springer from rode it there the year before I got it from him. Oh well. maybe someday.

The memorial sits just outside the Veteran's Club. There was no one there the day I visited so I couldn't speak to anyone. Upon return home, I called and spoke to a couple of folks at the club who were very nice, but could offer no insight. They each referred me to another guy with whom I have left a message. So far, he has not returned my call, but when he does, if he has good info, I will update here. I was able to determine that there are three from Sturgis who made the ultimate sacrifice in "Nam and that, too, is something I hope to verify when I talk to this fellow from the town.

Monday, September 24, 2012

South Dakota V

Headed towards North Dakota, to visit Bismarck and a few other sites, I passed many Bison, Pronghorn Antelope and other magnificent creatures and eventually I came to the town of McLaughlin, practically on the N.D. border. As I was driving down South Main Street I came across this simple memorial. Built in 1951 to honor WWI and WWII veterans in the local Veteran's Park, it was later updated to include Korean and Vietnam vets, too. There are no names listed here so one can only imagine the sacrifices and sorrows, triumphs and heroism, of those, who for us, at least, will always be nameless. But, no less heroes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

South Dakota IV

East of Aberdeen is Milbank. Here they have cluster of memorials to several wars. The one from 'Nam is particularly moving because it is dedicated to one man. Each is inscribed with pictures representing some aspect of the particular war. Actual artifacts owned by local veterans were used as models for these engravings.

I don't usually mention names here, but I figure if Milbank will build a memorial to one man, the least I can do is honor him, also.
Ronald Clifford Dexter
Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
Milbank, South Dakota
May 21, 1947 to September 19, 1966
RONALD C DEXTER is on the Wall at Panel 10E, Line 117

To read more about this young man who was only in-country about a month, go here;

Notice the engraving on this one, it is called a Field Cross and has been used since the Civil War as a means to call for help or mark where a solder has died. The WWII stele at this site has a similar engraving on its face, also. Only the helmets are different, depicting the individual wars. I have noticed on my travels more and more of these are marked with the more current helmet style. So, after a while you can tell what war is being noted from quite a distance.

The stone is red granite from South Dakota and the whole memorial sits in front of the Grant County Court House at the end of Main street.

The city of Milbank has a population of 3,353 and all of Grant County has 7,356. Incredible what people can and will do when determined. Thank you to all.

The next stop, on the 24th is McLaughlin, as usual at 9.00am, join me there!

Friday, September 14, 2012

South Dakota III

Aberdeen lies in nearly the north east corner of the state. The memorial here is dedicated to the 14 who gave their lives in Vietnam. The four triangular steles, backed by flag poles and surrounded by benches, list their names, rank and where they were lost, and depict a number of scenes as well as quotations from JFK and others. It was an interesting day as it was so humid that keeping my lens clear proved to be nearly impossible. As mentioned elsewhere on this site, the local rivers were flooding and the resulting humidity affected what I was trying to accomplish.

This memorial is in Anderson Park located at 6th Ave. and Boyd St.

From Aberdeen, I drove even further east, almost to the state line where I found a memorial to one solder. In some ways even more moving. Simple, respectful and standing with similar monuments to other wars, this one, once again, says much about small towns. Join me in Milbank at 9:00am on the19th.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2012

Last year it seemed "not quite right" to write about Vietnam memorials on 9/11. I remembered that I had photographed a couple of 9/11 memorials along my journeys and decided  to honor and remember those lost on this fateful day in our history instead. 11 of my neighbors were lost at the Pentagon and in their memory, as well as all the others, I posted a couple of pics of some of  the ones I have seen. Below are the names of those who were lost from my area at the Pentagon;

William Edward Caswell
Dr. Gerald Paul Fisher
Capt. Lawrence D. Getzfred
Michele M. Heidenberger
Angela Marie Houtz
Teddington Hamm Moy
Lt. Darin H. Pontell
Scott A. Powell
Todd Hayes Reuben
Patricia J. Statz
Ernest M. Willcher

You can see last years post by clicking on last September in the list to the right of this page and then scrolling back to the post.

The above memorial is in Rosemead, California. Located near the Vietnam memorial at the city hall it immediately caught my attention. A piece of the World Trade Center is supported by two hands made up of individual birds. There are 2976 doves, exactly the same number of birds as victims on 9/11. The birds were cut from sheets of stainless steel and then hand formed  by the artist so that each one fit perfectly into its place. This part of the project, alone, took nearly 5 months and the artist is quoted as saying "Every time I got tired of bending metal, I remembered that each bird was a human life" and that kept him going. Dedicated on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, this memorial along with the Vietnam memorial and others will soon be relocated to a new plaza that is under construction in the city. The marker for the memorial was in storage, in prep for the move, when I was there. The head of the Parks Dept was kind enough to go get it so I could photograph it, too.  Thanks again!

Back to 'Nam sites on the 14th. Join me at Aberdeen, South Dakota at 9:00am

Sunday, September 9, 2012

South Dakota II

It is not uncommon for me to dedicate two separate posts to a single site. What is a little different and what I am doing today, is!

This site in Pierre is just so cool that I want to include some of the non Vietnam features. These include tributes to Native Americans, Korean War vets, and WWII vets.

The first two pics are of the whole site. The first one is from the right as you face the lake. The Vietnam and Korean walls are to the left in this pic.

The third pic shows the side by side Korea and Vietnam memorials.

Four and five highlight the WWII guys. Note that these are in color which is a bit unusual but highly effective. I was told, just today, that at one time, one of the guys was holding a cigar in his hand while he is saluting the flag, but that it was removed because that just should not happen.

The next two are of the eagle that was placed to honor all the Native Americans that have served their country.

And the final two are of the Flaming Fountain. I could not see a flame, but that is often the case, I am trying to find out if it is actually lit or if for some reason it was not on the day I was there. As always, if I get an update after this has posted to the site, I will let you know.

Check out my annual 9/11 remembrance post on the 11th, as always, at 9:00am.

UPDATE; A nice person from South Dakota Tourism called me yesterday (9/11/12) to explain that the flames is no longer lit. It seems the pipes that deliver the gas are under the lake and have been crushed over the years. It would be incredibly expensive to drain the lake, repair the pipes, etc so there are no plans to do so. Too bad, it must have been really beautiful.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

South Dakota

Prior to my visit I must admit that I knew very little about South Dakota. Some vague ideas about The Black Hills, Native Americans and Deadwood! As is often the case in my travels, I was delighted with what I found and experienced while in the state. I visited not only a number of memorial sites, but also, Mt. Rushmore, The Crazy Horse Memorial, Sturgis (home of the country's largest bike rally) and Deadwood. Deadwood currently thrives due at least in part to the HBO series (one of my favorites!) of the same name. I couldn't get a hotel room in the town it was so crowded!

I landed in Pierre, the capital, in what may be the smallest airport I've ever seen. As a result, the whole process was quick, easy and expedited by the nice folks who worked there.

The Vietnam memorial sits on the Capitol grounds, just a short distance from the airport, with a couple of others to WWII and Korea. The site was dedicated in 2006 with a two day celebration. Many guests, politicos and vets were present. I have read that the number exceeded 32,000!. The emcee was none other than Adrian Cronauer of "Good Morning, Vietnam" fame

As part of the two day event, 28,000 balloons were released, one for each South Dakotan who served. Another 211 black ones were sent skyward to honor those lost or missing.

So, to the memorial. It consists of a wall listing the 211 names engraved upon it. A statue of a soldier, in full battle gear, is approaching the wall to look for the name of his buddy; whose dog-tags he holds in his hand.

I have mentioned previously that I have learned to look for details to see who has done their homework for these sites. This one stands out!

In the photo of the solders dog tags and cross, you can see that the sculpter included a detail I have never seen on any other site. The ubiquitous (to those of us who were there) P-38! For any who may not know, the P-38 is a can opener! These were included in boxes of C-rations and were practically hoarded by the troops as "C's" came in cans; no P-38, no eat!. Every guy I knew had one on his tag chain and usually others kept somewhere else. These and the tags were often taped (or, too often, band-aided) together to help prevent "jingling' while moving. (I was there before the rubber edged tags were available) This along with the dog tag in a boot lace that I saw in North Carolina are the kinds of things, I suppose, that only a vet would notice. so, my guess is either the sculptor is a vet or they worked very closely with vets to get this right! Whichever, NICE JOB!

Next time, I will feature a few more pics from this site. They are not specifically Vietnam, but are well worth seeing. See you on the 9th at 9:00am