Since announcing their project just one month ago, Randy Ark and Dave Bauer have received donations from across the United States to go toward their planned memorial for Clark County Vietnam soldiers who died during the war. Some would call it ironic that the war which found Americans so divided against themselves in factions of doves or hawks is now uniting people from across the country in the name of honoring those who served and died in such a polarizing conflict.
Ark and Bauer, members of The Military Order of the Purple Heart of Ohio, even received a check from someone in the Philippines to support the effort. “Evidently, we’ve struck a nerve with a lot of people,” Ark said. “It pleases me that so many private citizens are stepping up to help us,” Ark said of the proposed memorial that will be erected in Veterans’ Park in Springfield.
The memorial, now being dubbed “The Dog Tag Memorial,” will be constructed in the shape of, you guessed it, a large military dog tag, bearing the name of every Clark County soldier who fought and died in the Vietnam War. Many names have already been collected, but Ark and Bauer know they have not reached everyone in Clark County who lost a loved one in Vietnam.
Ark, who was invited to join The Military Order of the Purple Heart as an honorary member, served as a medic in the First Infantry during 1968 and 1969 in Vietnam. “Medics sometimes get wounded while tending to other wounded,” Ark said of the time he was injured in February of 1969. No paperwork was documented of Ark’s injuries as he was being treated, so he never became eligible for the Purple Heart. The Military Order of the Purple Heart of Ohio asked Ark to join them as an honorary member three to four years ago, and since then, he said he is very proud to be able to honor Clark County soldiers in any way possible.
The “Dog Tag Memorial” will be comprised of a roughly five feet long, three feet wide, and six-inch thick gray granite dog tag memorial set upon a base. A QR Code for smartphones will also adorn the monument, giving users the opportunity to share stories, photos, or memories about the men on the plaque. A bronze Soldier’s Cross, the statue of a rifle set into combat boots topped with a soldier’s helmet, will be set into the base of the monument alongside the dog tag, and a bronze plaque bearing the names of donors who gave $500 or more will be mounted on its front. “If it were up to me,” Ark said, “I’d put the name of everyone who donated a quarter on there,” adding that amount of support they have received from private citizens has been overwhelming.
Ark said the memorial was Senior Vice Commander of Ohio’s Military Order of the Purple Heart Dave Bauer’s idea, and that he immediately agreed with Bauer that Clark County’s Vietnam memorial was something that had to be done. He said that any extra donations would be used for maintaining the monument year-round, and for future projects as well. “We do not intend to take more than what we need for this monument,” Ark stated, but said that memorializing those from the county who served in different wars was definitely a goal for the future.
“Our dream is for Veterans Park to be a place where veterans can bring family and friends and be proud. We want it to be beautifully landscaped, manicured, and maintained all year round, to have the park lighted at night so to be seen from Fountain Avenue, and to have Memorial Benches for those wishing to sit and contemplate. We would like additional memorials erected for veterans from Clark County who died in WWII, the Korean War, and the Iraq/Afghanistan War,” said Ark.
Ark said a woman recently called him, saying that her son’s name was already on the list of names to be added to the memorial, and that she wanted to make a contribution, though she didn’t have much money. “I told her not to worry about it one bit,” Ark said. “She has already given enough.”
The following list includes the existing names Ark and Bauer have compiled for the memorial of soldiers from Clark County, Ohio, who fought and died during the Vietnam War. If you know of a serviceman or woman who is not on the list, but meets the criteria above, contact Randy Ark at 937-215-3929.
Steven J. Adams; William R. Adams; Steven R. Anderson; James R. Arthur; Richard R. Bean; George Beedy; William D. Bloomfield; Donald R. Bryant; Thomas E. Burlile; Jimmy L. Chambliss; James Connell; Joseph Crossley; Robert J. Curtis; Thomas L. R. Daugherty; Joseph N. Decker; Willard Delong, Jr.; David L. Doyle; David A. Dye; Wetzel L. Eldridge; Ralph B. Evilsizor; Ralph Ferguson; David A. Fialko, Jr.; Steven D. Gundolf; Robert L. Gunther; Douglas B. Haddix; David A. Hamilton; Paul L. Harrison; John F. Hatfield; Jerry W. Hauf; Louis G. Heil; Jerome Higgins; Robert A. Hill; Richard S. Leach; Larry E. Lee; Edward D. Martin; Wendell H McKenzie; Henry T. McLemore; Foster B. Miller; Richard K. Morrison; Carl F. Mowery; Carl D. Nall; David L. O’Connor; Harley B. Pyles; Thomas Ralston; Robert T. Rice, Jr.; Michael E. Roberts; Larry D. Ruggles; Jack A. Sanders; Leroy E. Simons; Floyd P. Skaggs; Carl W. Sparrow; David States; James B. Tasker; Kenneth E. Thornton; Steven D. Townsley; William B. Turner; Roger L. Vickers; Terry L. Walls; Frederick A. Wathen; William M. Wellman, Jr.; Steve E. Wertz; and Clarence Williams.
Ark’s rendering of the Dog Tag Memorial for Clark County soldiers who were killed while serving in the Vietnam War.