After 10 months of planning, a monument to recognize Korea and Vietnam veterans of East Penn Township was dedicated on Saturday under sunny skins at Marvin Gardens Park. The location of the monument is next to the World War I and World War II monument and is near the Lehigh River.
The monument honors veterans of the two conflicts for their military service.
Carved into the black granite monument were the 56 names of East Penn Township veterans who served in the military during the Korean War from 1950 to 1955 and Vietnam War from 1960 to 1975.
Ÿ 17 names from Korea are: Clair Andreas, Robert Andrews, Warren C. Berger, Williard C. Doll, Lyle D. Evert, John R. Frey, Richard M. Kriner Jr., Clair Rehrig, Dale A. Rehrig, Gene E. Rehrig, Mavin F. Smith, Edward J. Steigerwalt, Frances Stenack, Donald R. Strohl, Charles Taschler and Robert R. Zuber.
Ÿ 39 Vietnam veterans: Gerald A. Ahner, Robert M. Beblavy, John Bench Jr., Charles Bierman, Frank J. Bokan, Curtis L. Bredbenner, Rodger Diehl, Robert L. Ebbert, Norman J. Ellis, Edward J. Finney, Harvey Fogel, Bruce B. Haydt, Paul E. Kleintop, James D. Knappenberger, Richard M Kriner III Edwin Leiby, James W. McFarland, Ernest H. Miller, Kenneth E. Miller Jr., Robert L. Nansteel, Ronald A. Neff, Harry J. Procina, Donald F. Quinn, Richard W. Reiner, David A. Schappell, Kenneth M. Scherer, Daniel O. Schleicher, Donald K. Schleicher, William G. Schwab, Thomas P. Sebelin, Richard D. Smale, Ronald J. Steber, John Stefanik, Robert C. Stein, Glenn C. Troutman, John W. Welsh and Harry J. Wynn III.
Many of the veterans and/or their families listed on the monument attended the program.
The monument was conceived and organized by East Penn 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.
The men first raised their proposal to build a memorial in late summer 2012 with the hope that it would be completed in 2013.
The monument is a rectangle with a wave top and has all five military emblems engraved across the top.
They received donations from most local veterans organizations, including the Vietnam Veterans Organization of Carbon County, Lehighton American Legion, Lehighton Veterans of Foreign Wars, Lehighton United Veterans Organization, Lehighton Legion Auxiliary. Individuals and businesses who have donated so far include Pizza Como, McFarland Used Cars, Lee and Kay Becker, Jim and Barb Smith, Fisher Garage, Cynthia Arthur, Fred Schaeffer, Schwab Law Offices, Todd and Audrey Kriner, Forest Inn Masonry, Mallards Market, Country Harvest, Lehighton Ford, Pencor Services and Leroy Goldberg and Strohl's Sanitation.
Speaking at the program were Kevin Long, president of the Lehighton United Veterans Organization; Henry Desrosiers, director of Carbon County Veterans Affairs; Jay Barry, commander of the Carbon County Veterans of Vietnam; and Frank Bokan. David Bryfogle served as master of ceremonies.
Long said that he was honored to be a part of the dedication.
"I give my debt of gratitude and thanks to those listed on this monument from the area who served their country during the Korean and Vietnam wars," said Long. "In each incident, both wars were 'cold war' actions that were the result of communist intervention."
Long added that these two wars show the sacrifices that were made to ensure our way of life.
"Although they appear as names on a stone, they are much more than that," said Long. "For each name listed is a person that made a commitment to themselves and their country."
Desrosiers said, "The men and women from East Penn Township answered the call of their country during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Today we pay homage not only to those who gave their lives, but to their comrades present here today and those across the country.
"You dedicate this site as a sacred place where people gather to take pictures; where veterans will gather to share experiences with each other or just stand or sit alone to ponder thoughts they can never share with anyone," added Desrosiers.
Jay Barry, retired Major General with the U.S. Air Force, said, "This memorial is a symbol. We remember their sacrifices through the years. We go to parades and hear speakers talking about people who paid the ultimate sacrifice. They never got to live a full life. They were never fathers and mothers. They never saw their children graduate. Their father never walked their daughter down the aisle. They never found the perfect mate and will never see their grandchildren grow up in a place that is free."
Barry said that we need to do all that can be done so that these people are never forgotten.
"You can almost hear these men and women say, 'Please don't forget us'."
"We won't forget them," said Barry. "While we enjoy cookouts, we also need to pause and remember the men and women on their walls and plaques who tried so hard to protect our nation."
Both Bryfogle and Bokan then unveiled the monument.
Bokan concluded the program with comments.
"Dave (Bryfogle) and I worked hard to honor the Korean and Vietnam Veterans from East Penn Township," said Bokan. "Unfortunately, two people who are on the wall have passed in the past few weeks. Today, I want to honor these two men who are listed among the 56 names on the wall Robert Andreas and James W. McFarland.
"We remember the sacrifice of these people made through the years," said Bokan.
The monument was constructed by Erich Schlosser of Whitehall.
Approximately $200 in excess collected was donated to the Pa. Chapter of Wounded Warriors.