Memorial Day events honor soldiers, history

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter



If you go

■ What: Memorial Day ceremonies.

■ Where: Vancouver Barracks.

■ When: Monday at:

11 a.m. — Memorial Day ceremony at Clark County Veterans War Memorial.

1 p.m. — “Post to Park” ceremony, Artillery Barracks in West Vancouver Barracks.

Other Memorial Day Weekend events


■ Fern Prairie Cemetery, 25700 N.E. Robinson Road, Camas. A Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard will conduct the 11 a.m. ceremony. The names of soldiers buried at the cemetery will be read aloud. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, cemetery board members will be available from 9 a.m. to dusk to answer questions and help visitors locate graves.


■ Northwood Park Cemetery, 16407 N.E. 15th Ave., Ridgefield. A Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard will conduct the 11 a.m. ceremony. An F-15 jet flyover is scheduled for 11:11 a.m. (weather permitting). The event is free and open to the public.

■ Washougal Cemetery, 3329 Q St. At the 11 a.m. event, members of several organizations will place wreaths at the cemetery flagpole to honor deceased veterans. An honor guard from Cape Horn American Legion Post 122 will participate. Members of the cemetery board will help visitors locate graves.

■ Camas Cemetery, 630 N.E. Oak St. Boy Scout Troop 562 will hold a ceremony at 9 a.m. at the flagpole. Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars will place flags in the cemetery. Cemetery staff and volunteers will help visitors locate graves on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

■ Evergreen Memorial Gardens, 1101 N.E. 112th Ave., Vancouver. The 11 a.m. event is open to the public. An F-15 jet flyover is scheduled for 11:12 a.m. (weather permitting). Boy Scouts and a veterans honor guard will participate.

Military personnel whose lives were cut short serving our country and a military presence that lasted 162 years will be saluted Monday at Vancouver Barracks.

The two events at the historic campus are among several Memorial Day weekend observances around Clark County.

At least five local cemeteries will hold ceremonies honoring the nation's war dead.

The back-to-back Memorial Day events at Vancouver Barracks will commemorate local servicemen, as well as a big swath of American history, as the Army transfers the remaining barracks property to the National Park Service.

Vancouver's Memorial Day ceremony will be at 11 a.m. at the Clark County Veterans War Memorial, on Fort Vancouver Way in the barracks.

The memorial, dedicated in 1998, recognizes more than 575 service members who died in conflicts ranging from the Spanish-American War in 1898 to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The keynote speaker is U.S. Army Col. Peter Norseth, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 95th Division, which is based at the new Armed Forces Reserve Center in east Vancouver.

Other featured speakers include U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; State Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver; and Tracy Fortmann, superintendent of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Participating units include the 204th Army Reserve Band; 6th Marine Support Battalion; 2nd Brigade, 95th Division Color Guard; 146th Army National Guard Artillery; Buffalo Soldiers; Patriot Guard Riders; Lewis & Clark Young Marines; and the Fort Vancouver Pipe Band.

Larry Smith, Vancouver city councilor and retired Army officer who served at Vancouver Barracks, will host the ceremony.

Smith is co-chairman of the Community Military Appreciation Committee, which is coordinating the event. The nonprofit group was founded to keep the area's military heritage alive after the Army left the barracks. The ceremony is sponsored by Waste Connections.

The barracks post exchange -- now known as a shoppette -- will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to serve Memorial Day visitors. While most of its customers have military connections, the shoppette can sell ready-to-eat snack items and bottled water, soft drinks and other "consumable" beverages to the general public. The shoppette -- the birthplace of the military PX system -- is on the east end of Hatheway Road.

Weather permitting, F-15 fighters from the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing based in Portland will fly over several Southwest Washington events.

Barracks transfer

The 1 p.m. "Post to Park" ceremony will observe the transfer of the East and South Barracks from the Army Reserve to the National Park Service; it will become part of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

The ceremony will commemorate a U.S. Army presence that dates back to 1849.

The post closure ceremony will be at the Artillery Barracks, 600 East Hatheway Road.

The Army Reserve will be represented by Brig. Gen. Alton Berry, deputy commanding general of the 88th Regional Support Command, and Brig. Gen. Kurt A. Hardin, commander of the 104th Training Division, which was based at Vancouver Barracks before moving to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The National Park Service will be represented by Chris Lehnertz, director of the Pacific West Region, and Fortmann.

The ceremony will be followed at 2 p.m. by National Park Service tours and the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site's annual "Soldiers Bivouac" living history encampment on the historic Parade Ground.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558;;