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Wyandotte Veterans Plan to Honor Hometown Men Who Died in the Vietnam War

Veterans pledge to raise $25,000 to fund the creation of the Wyandotte Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Veterans organizations from Wyandotte are banding together to help commemorate the lives of some of their fallen comrades.

A dozen veterans representing six organizations have pledged to raise upwards of $25,000 over the next 18 months to construct a monument to honor the 10 Wyandotte soldiers who died while serving in Vietnam.

The Wyandotte Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be constructed of black granite and will sit at the east end of Superior at Van Alstyne.

The center will contain a map of Vietnam, with the names of the 10 soldiers engraved on the right side. A pair of benches will be built on both sides of the monument.

Tom Woodruff, owner of , is spearheading the project on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

“This is long overdue to the families, friends and citizens of Wyandotte,” he wrote in a letter to city officials. “As you know, this war suffered much controversy and these men paid the price with their lives. They ought to be honored in our city in the same praiseworthy fashion as our veterans from past wars.”

Also working on the project are Ed Gorecki and Don Howard of the American Legion; Ken Holezki, John Kowalczik and Al Starzec of Veterans of Foreign Wars; Dale LeBeau of the U.S. Marine Corps; Lenny Milewski and David Polczynski of Military Order of the Purple Heart; and Joseph Peterson, Mark Ratynski and Jeff Torno of Vietnam Veterans of America.

Woodruff said the organizations plan to hold fundraising events and solicit donations to raise the $25,000 that is needed to build the monument. To help raise money, the veterans also will allow people to sponsor a brick or a bench and have it engraved with a personalized message. Bricks can be sponsored for $125 and $200, and a bench for $2,500.

Any money left over will be used to clean up the city’s World War I Memorial on Superior near Biddle, Woodruff said.

“As proud veterans from the city of Wyandotte, we are certain that this monument will help bring closure to the family members of these 10 brave warriors who have given all,” Woodruff said on behalf of those involved in the project. “In doing so, they make us proud to be Americans. They must always be remembered and never forgotten.”

The 10 veterans being honored are Christopher Johnson, Patrick Callahan, Thomas Raubolt, Cecil Hobbs, Robert Jenkins, Billy Taylor, Henry Baldwin, Danny Yelley, George Tear and John Lafler.

Tax-deductible donations can be made out to the Wyandotte Vietnam Veterans Memorial and mailed to P.O. Box 221, Wyandotte, MI 48192.

Tom Woodruff November 29, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Thanks, Jason, for helping the Wyandotte Vietnam Veterans Memorial committee get the word out on this long overdue monument to honor our city's lost sons. Also, it is important to note that we are seeking their family members as we would like to gather more information about these heroes. It would be so helpful if Patch readers would contact any member of this committee if you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of their families - whether that are still local or have moved out of the area. And please feel free to donate to our cause! Thanks!
Teddy Rex Patton II February 04, 2012 at 05:05 PM
It is so nice to see that their sacrifices will now never be forgotten. We, the many who served, know deeply the devotion it takes to yield the will to the command and authority of those who lead. Some of us fell, but some of us survived that hell. This Monument is to those who fell, never to come home to us, with smiles and embraces, yet graven deeply in our hearts, never to fade until our lives also finally pass away. But the Monument is also to us. We have decided to show and share our hearts and our love for our Brothers In Arms, and we also here re-dedicate our selves to the honor and duty in the oath we all swore, "... against all enemies ..." And here we will together stand, "... with Liberty and Justice, for all." Thank you, comrades. We pledge our full honor and remembrance to you. Teddy Rex Patton RHS 1956. USAFSS 1960-68.
Just Sayin! July 31, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I have a lot of respect for ALL who serve or have served in the past, to defend our nations freedoms.. But I was just wondering if Wyandotte has any Korean war memorials, or is it truely the "forgotten war"..My 81 year old father served in Korea...

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