Battle Ground City Council sets sights on veterans memorial

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

Published:

 
photoPlans for the Battle Ground Veterans Memorial

Battle Ground Veterans Memorial

• World War II: Julius J. Bergman, Edmond H. Condon, Jack O. Freel, Bruce C. Green, Joe J. Pancoska, Elmer E. Pellet, Archie C. Peru, Albert E. Sakrison, Paul H. Snider, Sheldon E. Tessendorf, William A. Uskoski, Leonard A. Wallace, Walter G. Wright.

• Korean Conflict: Jack Hanley.

• Vietnam Conflict: Raymond E. Carpenter, Daniel B. Cheney, Richard A. Hostikka, Dale R. Lindberg, Alvin L. Lowery, Timothy G. Mattson, Donald F. Thulin.

• Operation Iraq Freedom: Cedric E. Bruns.

• Operation Enduring Freedom: Kane M. Funke, Jeremiah J. Johnson, Bryce D. Howard, Jonah D. McClellan, Andrew J. Shields.

Army Pvt. Andrew Shields was killed in action in Afghanistan six years ago, but the young Battle Ground soldier's legacy lives on.

The 19-year-old's death by a suicide car bomber on May 31, 2008, inspired the Battle Ground City Council to launch a memorial for him and other fallen troops from the town.

"Andrew Shields really inspired the memorial, which the City Council voted on in 2009," said Debbi Hanson, Battle Ground's director of parks and recreation. "Since then, it's been a long and ongoing process to get it finished."

The city has raised $24,000 for the project through a variety of flea market sales and other events, and from donations by local businesses. Full retail cost for the project would be $150,000, but Hanson said her department hopes to find some businesses willing to give materials discounts to lessen the costs.

"Best case scenario, we start moving dirt for the project in March 2015, and our goal would be to have it done by Memorial Day or July 4," Hanson said. "But we may have to do it in staggered stages."

The memorial will be built in Battle Ground's Kiwanis Park.

Shields was a popular football and track athlete when he attended Battle Ground High School.

In his senior year, he became a cadet firefighter for Clark County Fire District 11, before joining the Army.

He was serving in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan with the 173rd Special Troops Battalion (Airborne) when he was killed.

Many in his hometown saw him as an inspiration.

"There were so many avenues open to him in life," Mike Gregoire, former Gov. Chris Gregoire's husband, said at his memorial in 2008. Mike Gregoire is a Vietnam veteran. "He chose the most difficult path, of being a soldier in wartime. Four decades removed, I feel deeply the loss of men I served with who had such bright futures, but whose country called on them for service. May God look over all of you."

Shields' MySpace page message before his death read: "Stay focused, know what you want to do with your life and make your dreams come true."

He's far from the only military member from Battle Ground who died fighting for his country. The list of names for the memorial, which extends back to World War II, includes nearly 30 men.

"We have people who submit names, and then we have a committee that goes through and looks to see if they meet the criteria," Hanson said. "It's sad in any conflict that young men have to give up their lives. We need to honor their service."

The memorial design includes an arched wall for names, landscaping, flagpoles, pavers and five benches, each dedicated to one branch of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard).

"We had local landscape architects do renderings in 2009, and we had an open house to let the public and local veterans' groups come through and tell us what features they liked," Hanson said. "Based on their feedback, we picked a conceptual plan in 2010."

AKS Engineering & Forestry and Prairie Electric donated employee time to develop the engineering and electrical plans for the site, and a host of other businesses, including Tapani Underground, have donated time for surveys, landscaping and some materials discounts.

The capital campaign began in 2012 and has included several fundraising events, including the Fairgrounds Park Flea Market on Saturday.

The next event will be a Yellow Ribbon campaign on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, asking local businesses to donate a portion of their revenues for that day.

"We're still working on details for that, but we'll get the information out when it gets closer," Hanson said. "The community really cares about this. The memorial is a way to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice."

For more information or to donate to the project, visit www.cityofbg.org and click on Veterans Memorial Project in the Parks & Recreation section.