DEARBORN – The city will honor the 69 soldiers from the community who lost their lives in the Vietnam War — most of them fresh-faced young men just out of high school — during its Memorial Day services Monday.
About 150 family members and friends will attend the Memorial Day Parade, many of them walking or riding in the parade, with others watching from the sidelines as groups participating in the parade carry special posters with the photos and names of their sons, husbands, brothers, cousins and neighbors.
The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. on Michigan Avenue between Greenfield and Schaefer.
It follows a solemn funeral procession at 9:30 a.m. for three World I and World II veterans who died without resources and whose cremains have been sitting in Dearborn funeral homes for years.
Lisa Lark, an English teacher at Edsel Ford High School, has worked since June 2010 to compile a history of Dearborn’s Vietnam veterans lost while serving their country.
She contacted all of the families whose addresses she located for the deceased veterans. They shared their stories, and many of them are traveling from across the country to watch their loved ones be recognized.
One of the widows is flying half-way across the country to pick up her sister and together they are driving to Dearborn for this emotional tribute.
The project originally came about because Edsel Ford holds a Memorial Day ceremony every year in honor of the 23 Vietnam veterans from the school who died, and curious students began asking Lark — who used to teach social studies — about the men.
All who have come into contact with the surviving family members, even in the initial research phase, have had their lives transformed as they heard the powerful stories of remembrance, Lark said.
“It has been my honor and privilege to have the families of these men share their lives and stories with me. It has moved me beyond words and I hope I can do an adequate job of bringing their stories to life,” she said.
For this day of reflecting on Dearborn’s fallen Dearborn veterans Lark will be assisted at the parade by Edsel Ford senior Michelle Kerr and Kimberly Dyer , an adjunct instructor of history at Henry Ford Community College.
The Washington, D.C.-based Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has asked for a DVD copy containing photos and Lark’s biographies of the men. The fund established the Vietnam Wall and will be building a companion educational center.
Its goal is to put a face to every name on the wall, including those from Dearborn. At the Memorial Day Ceremony at City Hall fund representatives will accept the DVD and will recognize Dearborn for its initiative and the example set for other communities to honor their Vietnam veterans.
Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council Commander Craig Tillman, a Vietnam veteran, fully supports the project and is grateful that Lark’s work and the goals of the DAWVC for the 2011 Memorial Day Parade mirror each other well and only enhance the tribute to Vietnam veterans.
Lark’s project “really hits home and personalizes Dearborn’s losses,” Tillman said. “It will add meaning to the day for all those attending, as she turns faceless numbers into real people.”
Lark has compiled a list of Dearborn’s Vietnam causalities. It is:
• Richard M. Anderson, David Antol, Tommie Ray Angel, Edwin Bird, Robert Bonnici, Raymond Borowski, David Brannon, James Brock, David A. Brown, Jerry Clark;
• John Cochrane, Thomas Daily, James L. Davis, Randy Dillinder, Jay Cee Dyer, Michael Dziengowski, Paul Elwart, Gerald Emmons, James Fleming, Roger Foxworth;
• Henry Fugett, Larry Gambotto, Philip Gandolfo, Thomas Gentinne, Franklin Germany, Charles Hanselman, Rodney Harla, James Hath, James Hintz, Alan Hosnedle;
• James Huard, Rudolph Jackymack, Alan Kaartunen, Charles Karr, David Kowitz, Bradley Logan, Cecil McCann, Louis McCormick, Douglas McIlroy, Robert McKenna;
• James Morrow, Ralph Mueller, Thomas Naughton Jr., John Navarre, Michael Niezgoda, Robert Nozewski, Richard Paton, James Patterson, Michael Patterson, William Pearce IV;
• Wilbert Pennell, Mark Pietrzyk, Bruce Reynolds, Mark Robertson, Donald Rowley, William Schmaltz, George Siegwald II, David L. Smith, Earl R. Smith, Ronald C. Smith;
• Stuart Snell, Dennis Stancroff, James Stubblefield, David Terwilliger, Gary Tinker, Charles Trescott, Michael Troyan, John C. Wells, and Robert “Chip” Yokom Jr.;
Anyone with information or willing to provide assistance is asked to call Lark at (313) 410-8477or email [email protected].
For more information on the project, search for the Facebook group Dearborn’s Vietnam Heroes.