Plans continue to progress for a monument for Korea and Vietnam Veterans of East Penn Township. The monument is planned to be built at Marvin Gardens Park, near the Lehigh River, to honor veterans of these two conflicts for their military service.
The project is being 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 and they have continued seeking funding.
They are disheartened that out of the 60 letters sent out to appeal for a donation, they have gotten few responses.
"We know that this may not be the best time to send out appeal letters," said Bryfogle. "People get so much mail this time of year, but that is how it all worked out. We are hoping that more donations come in."
Despite their disappointment in the fund drive, they have nearly half of the funds needed to begin construction.
"We have some funds, but not all we need," said Bokan. "We have $2,420 and we are hoping for between $4,000, to $5,000."
Bokan noted that originally they had estimated the cost to add a name at approximately $25 and now realize that was too low an estimate.
"It's probably closer to about $40 to $45 a name," he added.
Bryfogle said that anyone eligible to have their name included will not be excluded even if they cannot contribute toward the monument because they are reaching out to the community for additional donations.
They have come up with a tentative design. The preliminary design they have settled on is a rectangle with a wave top, with all five military emblems engraved across the top. The monument will also include names of veterans of that era.
They have 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, and Schwab Law Offices.
The men have watched 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 the Saturday before 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.
"We're looking to honor our comrades," said Bryfogle.
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.
Forest Inn Masonry has donated the concrete for the base. It will be 36 inches deep, 48 inches long and 12 inches wide.
"Believe me when I say, this is going to happen," said Bryfogle. "We need to recognize our veterans. Without our veterans, we wouldn't have our freedom."
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) 386-3567 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.