Sunday, January 27, 2013

Illinois V

VFW dedication plaque
Directly across the street from the Havana Vietnam Tribute is the Mason County Courthouse. On the grounds there are several war memorials that honor all who have served and the five dead from the area are honored on one of them.
The entrance honoring all

The whole memorial

1959 - 1975

In Remembrance and Honor to those
From Mason County who made the
Ultimate Sacrifice for their country
in Vietnam

Killed 58,151
Wounded 153,303
POW/MIA 2,398

Mason County's Sacrifice

James A. Azbell
John W. Frederick
Larry R. Ladd
Don H. Lascelles
Edward W. Stone

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Illinois IV

Another really interesting and, so far, unique memorial is located in Havana, Ill. Havana has a memorial on the Courthouse lawn dedicated to the 5 lost from the area. I will get to that one in my next post. However, this one is something I have never seen anywhere.

Michael "Harry" Tarvin is a Vietnam vet who after his service wanted to make a memorial to all from Mason County who had served. He understood that those not commemorated on memorials, those who had survived, needed acknowledgement and recognition, too. He understood, also, that these who had suffered so much in the war and then again upon return "to the world" had paved the way for today's soldiers being greeted by applause and cheering in airports! I have often said that the "silver lining" to Vietnam is that we will never treat a vet like that again! This, as you probably know, is the founding principal of Vietnam Veterans of America; that one generation of veterans will never again abandon another.

So, he set to work. He started gathering photos of anyone who had served and who had lived in Mason County, where Havana is located, for 30 days or more. He put out the word and distributed flyers in the Havana area and there was a story in the newspaper that helped him collect the photos and stories of his comrades.

Harry owns an appliance store in Havana (H&H Appliances)and he displays the photos in one of the store fronts facing the street. The store is directly across the street from the Courthouse where the memorial to the five men lost is located. The address in 114 Plum Street.

The last photo on the right on the bottom pic is of a local Havana man who was killed in Cambodia, that place we never were!

Next time, we will visit the memorial at the Mason County Courthouse. Join me on the 27th at 9:00am.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Illinois III

On the corner of W. Cooke and Washington Streets in Mt. Pulaski, Ill. is the local Courthouse. among the several memorials there is this one to the two men from the area that were lost in Vietnam. Embraced by the American and POW/MIA flags Sgt. Raymond Gee and Pfc. Michael Scoggin are honored for their service and sacrifice.

As I have said so many times before it always warms my heart to see a town or county create an everlasting tribute to one or two or three fallen sons or daughters. It takes a lot of work and commitment to see these memorials through to completion and I salute the communities that have such diligence and respect.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Illinois II

The area being prepared for the second wall is just adjacent right to this one

Cutting the last few names into the Wall

All of these vets are part of Larry's family

Steve got a pic of me and Larry
On the road to Springfield, we (my buddy Steve was with me on this trip) noticed a National Guard tent on the side of the road and there was someone working on what was obviously a memorial. We pulled in and met the guys working there. It turned out to not be a specifically Vietnam memorial, but the story was just too good to let go by.

The guy who was behind this veteran's memorial is Larry Beck. He is Vietnam vet dealing with major Agent Orange issues. He decided to build a memorial to all vets from his area and attempted to get the permissions and other such stuff to get started. Well, for reasons unknown he could not get all the legal stuff out of the way. He did what any of us would do! He built it anyway. The memorial sits in a park in Spaulding, Ill. and I asked him what he would do if the powers that be took it down? He said, "I'll just put it back up!" In fact, he showed me a spot nearby that is being cleared for another wall.

A unique feature of this site is that groups of vets from the same family are together. Larry told me he has 14 vets in his family and they are all in a family group on the wall. Other related vets are grouped similarly. The dedication of this Wall was in just a few days and the guys were working furiously to get all the names cut into the bricks. They were confident that they would be finished on time. You can see the markings, tape and guides on the wall that were still being completed the day we were there.

My own observation is that he does not have to worry about anybody tearing down the Wall. No politician in his right mind wants to be known as the guy who tore down the veteran's memorial, so I am sure it is safe.

If you get to Spaulding, not far from Springfield, check this site out. It is a tribute not only to vets but to spirit and determination of those who decided it must be built. Great work Larry and all who participated.

Join me on the 17th for the next post from Mt. Pulaski, Illinois where there is a monument to two sons of Illinois, as always, at 9:00am.

Monday, January 7, 2013


The entrance road to the site is lined with flags, the wind has them in full display, today !

The Illinois Vietnam Memorial

The eternal flame

Names of the lost are inscribed on the black granite walls, reminiscent of The Wall in D.C.

Each of the services songs is inscribed upon its particular wall

Medal of Honor awardees and POW/MIA's are honored

Once, again, Forrest Gump has been proven right. You never know what you're going to find. I was distraught when I had a computer problem that cost me any number of photos. These pics had been backed up, twice, and the whole system failed. The pics, mostly from Missouri and Illinois were just gone!

After trying everything I, and every computer person I know, tried to do to retrieve them failed, I finally realized that I had to return to these two states to retake the photos.

When I visited Springfield the first time, I had a lot of trouble tracking down the site and then had to wait a day or so for the rain to let up. As a result, when I visited the Oak Ridge Cemetery, where the memorial is situated, it was wet, cloudy, cold, dank and not particularly conducive to good photos.

As you can see from these pics, all that had changed! The sky was beautiful, the trees in color, the wind was blowing the flags and all in all I am just happier with these pics. So, thanks Forrest for putting it in to perspective!

The Illinois State Vietnam memorial is dedicated to the 3009 who were lost or are still missing. I have read many sites that all have differing numbers but this is the highest I have found so far. I have a call into the site and if they give me different stats, I will certainly report them here.

Each of the five walls represents a branch of service. These support an eternal flame which honors all and this create five courts for rest and reflection. The POW/MIA's are honored separately from the known lost.

The memorial was the project of two local vets who attended the dedication of The Wall In D.C. in 1982. They wanted to honor all their friends and all who had made the ultimate sacrifice in 'Nam. The untimely and unexpected death of one of them only served to make the other more determined to finish the memorial.

Located at 1500 Monument Ave, Springfield, IL 62702, The Oak Ridge Cemetery honors other wars and warriors and is also the resting place of  Abraham Lincoln. One could spend quite some time in this sacred place and still probably not absorb it all.

Illinois proved to have some very interesting Vietnam sites. Keep checking back to continue the journey. The next post will be at 9:00am on the 12th. See you then.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Missouri VII

The Court of Honor

The Soldiers Memorial Military Museum

St. Louis, the last stop in Missouri, as all vets know, is the home to the military records center as well as other important military sites and activity. It is no surprise, then, that with all this heavy military presence that the city should boast The Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. The museum has been open for decades and is free to the public. It contains many exhibits and memorabilia, primarily from WWII. It is seen in the last photo here. It is located at 1315 Chestnut Street.

Directly in front of the museum is The Court of Honor. Here are commemorated the many from the St. Louis area who have served and given their all. The most recent addition is dedicated to the 214 from the area that made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

It was here, in the court that I chanced to meet the director of the museum and that encounter led to my being interviewed by a local radio station, a first for me. I will jump at any means to get the word out about this site,  A Means To Heal, to spread the word to vets and anyone else that might be interested. If you would like to listen in to that interview, it is archived by the radio station (KDHX) here;

Next, we will slip over the river into Illinois. The state memorial is at Springfield and that is where we will begin. See you on the 7th at 9:00am.