Memorial honoring slain Vietnam troops readies for dedication

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The Bronze Battlefield Cross

GREENVILLE — A project many months in the making is coming to fruition at Veterans’ Memorial Park, where a monument and flagpole are being erected in honor of local fallen troops who served in the Vietnam War.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 17 at 10 a.m. at the park, located at the intersection of Routes 81 and 32, and will honor the 17 troops with ties to Greene County who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the war.

Work at the site is ongoing, with much of the excavation completed at press time and installation of the Bronze Battlefield Cross, granite monument and flagpole expected to be completed by the date of the dedication.

The project has been beset with challenges, from shortfalls in donations to obtaining all the components of the monument in a timely fashion, said organizer Tim Broder from the Northeast USA Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the group spearheading the project.

“It’s just a matter of getting it installed now and we will do it — there is no doubt in my mind about that,” Broder said.

On the day of the dedication, the group also plans to set up a temporary “museum” in the community room of the Greenville Public Library, next door to the park, honoring the 17 fallen Greene County troops.

A portrait of each of the 17 slain county residents will be accompanied by a biography, and there will also be a military uniform of one of the men on display as well. While the dedication is aimed at honoring Greene County residents who were killed in action, the group will also pay homage to their slain brothers from across the river.

“We were asked by other Vietnam veterans in Columbia County if there was some way we could recognize them,” Broder said. “There are 17 in Greene County and 19 from Columbia County. We will put up a small display honoring those 19 from Columbia County and we will recognize them that day, but primarily the day is about honoring the 17 from Greene County.”

The monument will be engraved with those 17 names — Arnold Melvin Hull, William Michael Bagshaw, John Francis Dedek, William John Dolan, John Irwin Cameron, Donald Wyszomirski, James Ronald Oakley, Paul Lewis, Paul Edward Albano, Norman Wilbur Clearwater, Michael Joseph Rowcroft, Mark Vedder Schmidt, Ronald Francis Hock, Eugene Jerome Curless Jr., Harry Joseph Sickler, Robert Bruce Schampier and Tunis E. Rappleyea Jr.

The memorial project came with a hefty price tag — $102,723 — and there is still a substantial shortfall in the amount of money the group has been able to raise.

“We are still behind,” Broder said. “We have probably $25,000 in outstanding loans that have to be paid back because the people that loaned us the money were all very generous in their donations, so I am expecting to pay them back. And we also need about another $40,000 to finish up so we are behind the 8-ball by about $60,000.”

Donations have continued to come in as word of the project has spread, but there is still a significant amount of fundraising that needs to be done.

The Greenville Rotary is trying to do its part to assist the veterans’ group by holding a fundraiser “Roaring ‘20s” party on Friday, Sept. 16, from 6-9 p.m. at the American Legion Post 291, located at 24 Maple Ave., Greenville.

The party will be a dinner-dance, with costume prizes and a basket raffle, with a DJ playing the tunes. Tickets will be $20 and can be purchased from any Rotarian or from Robin at the National Bank of Coxsackie.

“The party proceeds will be donated to the Northeast USA Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to help pay for the new memorial in Greenville’s Veterans’ Park, which will be dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 17,” said Rotary President Cecile Plattner.

For more information about the “Roaring ‘20s” fundraiser, contact Greenvillenyrotaryclub@gmail.com.

Broder said word about the dedication has definitely spread and is even drawing visitors from both near and far.

“It seems to be getting recognition from people around the county,” Broder said. “We also have people flying in from Texas, we have people coming in from California.”

And that, after all, is the purpose of the monument — to increase awareness and keep alive the memory of the 17 Greene County residents who were killed in action in the Vietnam War.

“We survived to make sure nobody forgets the fallen. That’s why we are doing this,” Broder said of his fellow veterans. “We are Vietnam veterans, and we are all brothers, alive or dead. We are part of a fraternity and it’s our job to make sure they are not forgotten. And when this monument is finished, they are not going to be forgotten.”

Anyone looking to donate to the memorial can send a check made out to Northeast USA Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to P.O. Box 326, Freehold, NY 12431.

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