POW/MIA Memorial milestone draws near

Laying of first stone scheduled for April 18

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Nearby Veterans Memorials

• Vietnam War Memorial Garden on Vancouver’s VA campus.

• Korean War Veterans Memorial on Vancouver’s VA campus.

• Merchant Seamen Memorial on Vancouver’s VA campus.

• Clark County Veterans Memorial at Vancouver Barracks.

• Post Cemetery, Fourth Plain Boulevard east of Interstate 5.

• VFW Memorial Plaza and Remembrance Wall, south of City Hall along Phil Arnold Way.

• Ridgefield Veterans Memorial, North Third Avenue.

A ceremonial laying of the first stone at 8 a.m. April 18 will mark the construction of the community's POW/MIA Memorial.

The stone memorial to prisoners of war and military personnel who are missing in action is being built at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 15005 N.E. 65th St.

The Community Military Appreciation Committee, a civic nonprofit organization, is doing the project.

The first stone will be about 24 inches by 20 inches by 18 inches, designer Kelly Punteney said.

The ceremony will include speakers Army Lt. Col. J.D. Litton, and Community Military Appreciation Committee co-chairs Dan Tarbell and Larry Smith, who is a Vancouver city councilman.

The memorial is scheduled to be dedicated in September, as part of the local observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The actual groundbreaking has already taken place on the Reserve Center site in east Vancouver. Concrete was poured a couple of weeks ago to provide a base for the monument; the concrete needs to cure before the first stone can be lowered into place, Punteney said.

The stone that will be used in the memorial is local basalt.

Since the POW/MIA Memorial is right in front of the main building and will be an extension of the flag pole plaza, "There is a lot of foot traffic going right past us, so we did not want any hole in the ground any longer than necessary," he said.

"After the first stone, it will be several weeks before it will really start coming together and looking like something," Punteney said.

When finished, the monument will be almost 8 feet tall and almost 10 feet wide; the memorial will include benches and two 40-inch-high columns, Punteney said.

The $20,000 project will be partially funded by the Anna C. MacAskill Schwab and Dwight L. Schwab Sr. Charitable Fund.

Bricks around the memorial can be purchased to support the project. Vancouver Granite Works will engrave 18 characters per brick to honor POW/MIA servicemen for $100 each. Contact Robert Bean at 360-696-2326, 360-903-2340 or robertbean511@msn.com.

After it is built, the committee will donate the memorial to the Army Reserves. The structure will also serve as a backdrop to future presentations on the campus.

The Reserve Center, near the intersection of Fourth Plain Boulevard and Ward Road, now hosts the community's annual Veterans Day commemoration.

According to the Defense Department, more than 83,000 American military personnel remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War.