Public invited to Vietnam memorial dedication Saturday

Preparations have been made for the installation of a new Vietnam memorial at Veterans Park in Lock Haven. The dedication is scheduled for Saturday. WENDY STIVER/ THE EXPRESS

LOCK HAVEN — Veterans Park will soon have a new memorial, one that its sponsors, Ken and Karen Shadle, believe is long overdue.

Everyone is invited to join the Shadles and others in the park at East Water and Jay streets, this Saturday at 9 a.m. for the dedication of a freestanding panel in memory of the 19 men from Clinton County who died in a combat zone in Vietnam.

The park is across Water Street from the county courthouse and contains other memorials for heroes from other wars.

This Vietnam roll of honor will be installed during the 13-year observance of a variety of 50th anniversary dates in the Vietnam War. Fifty years ago, the war was raging and Americans were serving in the U.S. military in that far-away country in southeast Asia.

A local memorial for those who died should have been erected 45 years ago, Karen said.

Ken is a Vietnam veteran. He said he needs to plan, sponsor and fund this memorial to help him cope with his post-traumatic stress from that war.

“Ken just got up one morning and said, ‘I know what I need to do,'” Karen said.

The two of them researched the names and compiled a list of 19. They also appealed to the public for any names they may have missed. All 19 men were either Clinton County residents or had close ties to the county, Karen said.

The 19 heroes who will be commemorated on the plaque are: Larry K. Barner, Kenneth L. Culvey, George E. Eaton, John J. Edwards, Richard W. Johnston, Robert P. Johnston, John C. Keiper, James W. Mayes, Charles L. Merrill Jr., Earl T. Moore Jr., Daniel L. Myers, Phillip E. Neff, George H. Nestlerode, Mark E. Policastro, Dominic M. Sementelli Jr., William F. Smith Jr., Frederick G. Terry Jr., Milford H. Wensel, and Robert L. Worden.

Family members and friends are encouraged to come to the dedication. The Shadles also hope other veterans will come and honor their fallen comrades.

Bill Bechdel, Clinton County Veterans Affairs director, is arranging the ceremony which will include vocalist Melissa Barr and the Lock Haven University ROTC Honor Guard.

Sean MacMillen, a military veteran who is active on Team Red, White and Blue, will emcee, and his father, John MacMillen, will speak. John is a Vietnam veteran.

Clinton County Commissioner Pete Smeltz will lead prayers, and Jim Franklin will play “Taps.”

The panel was created by Mike Brown at Brownie’s Signs, Karen said, and was made to resemble the panel commemorating Navy Seal SOC David Michael Collins that already stands in the park.

The Shadles are taking care of all the costs of the panel and the ceremony, and have arranged for 100 chairs under a tent to accommodate everyone on Saturday morning.

The Dutch Haven will cater the dedication with mini-muffins, brownies, cookies, coffee, tea and juices, to encourage people to stay afterward.

“I hope people who haven’t seen each other in many, many years find each other and talk with each other,” Karen said.