Saturday, April 27, 2013

West Virginia VI

The statue here at Fairmont is not unusual. It depicts soldiers aiding a wounded comrade. This as I have mentioned in the past is one of several recurring themes found at these sites. This one, however, is just a little bit different. The same shock, fear, and 1,000 mile stare are seen on the faces of the three men. Something I have not seen before is the bullet hole in the back of the fallen soldier! Even with this trauma and horror, to me at least, this is a more positive rendition of this oft repeated scene. Because, the injured man is wearing a flak jacket which has protected him. He is going to live. He is going to be able to tell his story. He may tell his grandchildren about the time he almost didn't make it.

Flak Jackets were, for way too many of us, kind of like seat belts. We didn't want to be encumbered by them. They were hot and heavy and the temptation to take them off, for just a little while, was great. Most learned that leaving them on was the best policy. They, like seat belts, did not always save you, but you had a better chance with than without. This guy, on this day, made the right choice. Maybe, just maybe, he is reading this today.

Next time I will fill you in on the Super Slick at the site. I have had the honor of talking to those involved with getting to the site and even its crew chief! More on May 2nd at 9:00am!

Monday, April 22, 2013

West Virginia V

Not far from Morgantown is Fairmont. The memorial site there is so interesting that it will take at least two posts to cover it all!

The memorial consists of several different components and today I will stick to the names and the inclusiveness of this site.


Located in Marion County, W.V., it announced twice. This pic is on the side of a mail box that is used for flag collection. Another sign is nearby and will be featured next time.

As you can see the wind is blowing hard. I think I have never been colder in my life. My hands got so stiff that I had to get in the car a couple of times to get the feeling back in them. Quite different from 'Nam!

The names of the lost are listed by date on this main wall, but what is a little unusual is that nearby the names of all who served are also listed and honored.

Another interesting plaque honors a father and son who both served.

In addition and very unusual, families, friends and loved ones are considered by the placement of a poem.

Next time, I will explore some other components of the site. these include a Huey with an interesting story and a unique mural that runs along a wall bordering the whole site. So, join me next time for more of the story. Check back on the 27th at 9:00am!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

West Virginia IV

I almost did not go to Morgantown. I had seen some pics of its memorial and just couldn't find the time to drive all that way for a memorial that seemed small and incomplete. Fortunately, I discovered another one near by and decided to visit it. As Morgantown was kind of on the way, I decided to stop.

The weather was lousy. It was snowing and the temp was right around 13 degrees. But boy was I glad I stopped.

The memorial is really quite elegant. A "multiwar" it honors several other engagements, but each has a separate marker of some kind. they are all grouped together behind a protective fence. It seems the pictures I had seen elsewhere just did not due the site justice. Another lesson learned.

Names are not listed on these plaques, but it seems 24 from Morgantown were lost, 16 from Morgantown High School which has its own memorial. I did not know that when I was there, so, I don't have pictures of that one.

Next time on the 22, we will  visit the nearby location. It has an interesting story, like so many. So, join me in Fairmont at 9:00am, as always!

Friday, April 12, 2013

West Virginia III

I had read that this memorial was located in Bluefield and hoped to arrive with enough light to photograph it. As luck would have it, it was dusk when I pulled into the city. The memorial was no where to be found. so, in desperation, I pulled up to a guy walking his dog and asked if he knew where it was? What are the odds? He did! But, it is not located n Bluefield, but in Princeton, 10 miles away!

Arriving well after dark, I stopped anyway, just to check it out. It is quire beautiful. At the time, I did not have my tripod with me but tried a few shots anyway. Predictably they were not good. I walked around the adjacent Visitors Center for a few minutes and then decided to spend the night near by.

The memorial is a wall which surrounds and encloses eight smaller walls. Each of the smaller ones represent a county surrounding the area. The names of the lost from each of these counties are inscribed upon these inner walls. In the center of it all is a fountain. Flags, plantings and plenty of lights make the memorial inviting at all times.

Some counties were more fortunate than others with regards to the loved ones they lost.

I read an interesting thought somewhere. West Virginia became a state because of the Civil
War. She did not wish to leave the Union. Now, all these years later, Virginia and West Virginia, at least these eight counties, are reunited by another war; Vietnam. Four of the surrounding counties whose heroes are honored here are from West Virginia and four are from Virginia!

This memorial may be found at U.S 460 at Greasy Ridge Road, exit 9, off I-77

Next time, on the17th, we will visit Morgantown, West Virginia and the nice tribute they have there.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

West Virginia II

In a small park in Logan, West Virginia are several memorials to the locals who fought our wars. These include a number of lost from Vietnam. If you look closely at the next to final pic you can see that several names have been added since it was first inscribed. the two columns begin in alphabetical order but the addition of the names has changed the "order" of the memorial. I don't know if this is a reach or not but it all just reminds me of the chaos and confusion of the war. We see different dates for the span of the war, there is still discussion about who gets included on some memorials and who doesn't, and names continue to be added, or not. Each year, in D.C, there is a reading, at The Wall, of the names of those who were lost in the preceding year to Agent Orange or other Vietnam connected injuries, etc, that are not considered Wall worthy, are read aloud, to remember and honor them. In a future post I will tell you about a guy who was just added to another West Virginia memorial after all this time.

Note the added names at the bottom of each column.

This last photo is of  a small , nearby, memorial to the two local Vietnam Medal of Honor awardees. It is unusual for anyplace to be the home of  a Medal of Honor awardee, but two from the same war, from the same fairly small county (less than 38,000 in the 2000 census) is really momentous.

Logan has the distinction of being home to two Medal of Honor awardees from the Vietnam War.

The next post, April 12th, will feature a site honoring heroes from eight counties in two states. Join me at 9:00am in Princeton, WV.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

West Virginia

West Virginia is another of those states that combines its war memorials. Located on the capitol grounds in Charleston, this one honors WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Each war is represented by a monolith with a serviceman in appropriate gear. The Vietnam representative is a Marine.

On the reverse of his portion on the memorial are listed the 732 MIA/KIA's from the war. The state's Medal of Honor awardees are also honored inside the memorial.  Included among these are the nine from Vietnam. One of these was a conscientious objector who served as a medic and was killed while trying to save others in the field.

This magnificent tribute was begun has a private mission but the state later added funds from lottery sales to help enable earlier completion.

The Mountain State has the distinction of being the state that had the greatest percentage of losses during the war, at nearly 40 per 100,000. They are remembered here. West Virginia counts the war as from 64 to 75 and in that time period more than 36,500 of her sons and daughters served. All of these numbers might be different if the state counted from the "Official" start date of 1959, or the date of the first soldiers death in 1956.

Next time, on the 7th we will visit a small site in Logan. See you then.