Korea and Vietnam veterans of East Penn Township will soon see monuments at Marvin Gardens Park, near the Lehigh River, honoring their military service. The project is being organized by township residents David Bryfogle and Frank Bokan, both veterans.
Bryfogle, a Vietnam era veteran served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He is a member of the Lehighton American Legion, Post 314; and is also a member of the Lehighton United Veterans Organization.
Bokan is also a Vietnam veteran and served in the U.S. Marines during the war. Bokan is also a recipient of a Purple Heart, earned when a grenade struck his head, and then exploded on the ground beside him. He is also a member of the Lehighton American Legion, Post 314, the Vietnam Veterans of Carbon County, UVO and the Purple Heart Association.
Bryfogle said he has watched other communities raise funds to honor Vietnam veterans and feels that the time is right to honor veterans of East Penn Township.
"Originally they had planned to honor Vietnam veterans when they put up the monument to honor World War I and World War II veterans, but they ran out of money," said Bryfogle. "We are tired of being the forgotten the ignored."
Bryfogle said that he and Bokan will be accepting names of Vietnam and Korean War veterans until Feb. 28, 2013 and have hopes of dedicating the monument on Memorial Day, 2013.
"We are accepting the names of East Penn residents who have served during the Korean War era from 1950 to 1955; and Vietnam War era from 1960 and 1975," said Bokan. "We are asking for names of veterans who have lived in East Penn Township for at least five years."
Bokan said that they did not want to leave out veterans who grew up in East Penn Township and then moved away after joining the military. They hope to hear from those who have moved away.
"We are hoping to get a good response of names," said Bryfogle.
Bryfogle said that the cost to put up the monument will be about $25 a name or approximately $4,000 to $5,000.
"We will not exclude the names of anyone who cannot contribute," said Bryfogle. "That is why we are putting the word out to the public, so that businesses and individuals can contribute so no one is left out.
"We're looking to honor our comrades," said Bryfogle.
Bokan said that East Penn Township supervisors have already approved their request to have the monuments added at Marvin Gardens.
"There will be no cost to the township or taxpayers," said Bryfogle.
The two men have pledged to lay the foundation themselves as their contribution to the project.
"We have looked at purchasing two pillars," said Bokan. "We do have an idea of what we want to do, but nothing is firmed up."
Anyone who wants to help should send checks payable to: Korea-Vietnam Memorial Fund, in care of: David Bryfogle, 2515 Church Hill Road, Lehighton, Pa. 18235; or Frank Bokan, 3035 W. Lizard Creek Road, Lehighton, Pa. 18235. Anyone with names can also send them to the above addresses or call Bryfogle at (570) 385-3567 or (610) 577-6137 or Bokan at (570) 386-3001.
Any donations left after purchasing the monument will be donated to Wounded Warriors from the Veterans of East Penn Township.