Medals of America was proud to build 9 of our new black display cases for the new Henderson State Memorial for ROTC alumni killed in Vietnam. This article was originally posted here and we thought it would be a great story for our readers.
ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Lynn White doesn’t remember his father. He was younger than 1 when his father was deployed to Vietnam and just 13 months when he was killed in a plane crash in 1969.
That doesn’t mean that his father, Army Capt. Jerry White, has been forgotten.
Capt. White, a De Queen native, is one of nine Henderson State University ROTC alumni whose service and death in the Vietnam War was permanently etched into campus life when a memorial in their honor was unveiled Thursday morning.
The memorial features nine shadow boxes showcasing each soldier’s name and military honors below a 14-foot rectangle of black stone inscribed with words from the Gettysburg Address, “These men gave the last full measure of devotion.”
The monument is in the Garrison Center in a spot the men passed hundreds of times on the way to ROTC drills.
“I’m pretty proud of it,” Lynn White said as he glanced at the inscription. “I’m glad they did this.”
About two dozen family members gathered alongside dozens of school officials, alumni, students and community members at the Garrison Center for Thursday’s ceremony.
Mid-morning light filtered through windows that had been soaped by students with the men’s names and messages of thanks. The writing was cast on the stage as speakers recited details about the project and the men’s service.
The seed for the memorial was planted a few years ago when Henderson alumni Charles Brantley, a commercial pilot and veteran, began researching what he thought would be an article for the alumni magazine on Harry “The Horse” Godwin. Godwin was a decorated war hero who died in Vietnam. Henderson had little information on him.
“This guy’s got the Distinguished Service Cross,” Brantley recalls thinking incredulously. “There’re only (about) five people in Arkansas who have that.”
Brantley’s search was the subject of a Jay Grelan column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which caught the eye of Gerald Loyd, a Vietnam veteran and former roommate of Godwin.
Loyd approached the college, where he found a receptive audience. Henderson’s ROTC alumni, particularly those who served in Vietnam, are a close-knit group that includes Henderson President Bobby Jones.
When he was commissioned as an Army officer upon graduation, White’s family asked that Jones wear his fallen friend’s uniform.
Jones said he had a similarly close connection to Ronnie Echols, one of the board members who helped establish the memorial.
“In 1969, I carried my brother-in-law Ronnie Echols to go to Vietnam,” he said. “In 1972, he carried me to the same airport.”
Loyd formed a five-member board of Henderson alum who served in Vietnam. At the suggestion of alumni services coordinator Sherry Wright, they expanded the effort to establish an endowed scholarship to carry the nine names into perpetuity.
“I’m so thankful they were remembered in this way,” said Perry Bolding, Godwin’s cousin. “When I was in college, many returning veterans were spit on. … It was a national tragedy.”
Cheryl Herrington, whose brother Lt. Thomas Hoover was killed in 1967, traveled with her mother from Kansas City to attend the ceremony.
“It’s been 44 years since Tommy died, and it’s just incredible that they’ve put this together,” Herrington said. “We’re very touched by what they’ve done.”
The soldiers’ sacrifice has not been lost on younger generations, Wright said. She has watched dozens of students pass through the Garrison Center in the past couple of weeks.
“Without fail, they all stopped and looked as it was put on the wall,” she said.
In his invocation, Henderson alumnus Jimmie Chaffin, an Army colonel-turned-minister, offered a plea that the country will always honor those who have sacrificed themselves in war.
“May we who enjoy freedom and light never forget their suffering and death.”Medals of America builds Display Cases for Henderson State Memorial,