War Monuments

Overview of the West Perry War Monuments

America has been built upon the sacrifices of men and women, who believed in the ideals of freedom, democracy, and self-determination.  In the modern age, America has been the foremost protector of these ideals on a global scale.  Unfortunately many Americans take these ideals and the sacrifices required to gain and maintain them for granted.  It is for this reason that the students and faculty of the West Perry High School have deemed it vital to honor these brave men and women through the creation of war monuments dedicated to their memory.
Each of the monuments was designed by West Perry High School Students, and were a part of a cross-curricular project involving history, art, English, and music in the design, construction, and dedication.  During the construction, a time capsule was buried at the base of each of the monuments, containing artifacts from friends and family members of the veterans and items connected to the creation of each of the monuments.  When these capsules  are opened, the items will be dedicated to the Perry County Historical Society for their archives.
We have not been able to locate another school in the U.S. that has a permanent monument on their campus for each of these major conflicts.  We have also recently discovered that we have created the only known monument to the conflict in Somalia and the Battle of Mogadishu. 

World War II Monument
Dedicated November 8, 1995

World War II MonumentThe idea for the World War II monument came from Mr. James Zimmerman, a former principal at West Perry High School, whose father had been a veteran of World War II.  The project was headed by Mr. Jeff Zeiders, a former Social Studies teacher, and was overseen by the World War II Commemorative Committee, which was officially recognized by the Department of Defense.  Overall the project involved the efforts of over two hundred students, including the members of Student Senate, History Club, and the Art Club.

A contest was held among the students to develop a design, which would symbolize the war and honor the sacrifices made by those who served.  The winning design, submitted by Melissa Palm, was brought to life through the sculpting and casting work of other West Perry students.  The efforts of the students were guided by the expertise of Mr. James Victor, a professional sculptor, and Mr. Alan Hench, a West Perry High School Art teacher.  The monument design features an eagle, perched upon one arm of a flag draped cross, which is embedded in a bolder.  Buried behind the monument is a fifty year time capsule, which contains a WWII ration book from Perry County, sand from Iwo Jima, a World War II newspaper, and various patches.
The project’s cost totaled $6,000, all of which was earned through the efforts of the students to hold a WWII dinner dance along with other.  In the days leading up to the dedication, students worked tirelessly to paint all of the windows above the monument to resemble the flags of the allied nations of World War II.  The dedication itself was widely attended by veterans and family members of fallen soldiers, who came to honor the memories of those who sacrificed all for their country and the ideal of freedom.  The dedication also attracted the attention of former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who attended the dedication and addressed the student body.

World War II photo gallery (wmv file)

Korean War Monument
Dedicated May 24, 2002

Korean War MonumentAfter the creation of the World War II Monument, it seemed only fitting and natural to create a monument dedicated to the veterans of the Korean War around its 50th anniversary.  Another design contest was held among the student body, and the winning design was created by Sarah Wheatley, featuring an American soldier scouting the North Korean lines through binoculars.  This design was then sculpted by West Perry students under the direction of Mr. James Victor, who was the professional sculptor, who assisted with the World War II monument.  This product was next cast as a bronze bas-relief plaque by Laran Foundry in Chester, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Dean Metz, a Korean veteran from Perry County, said that the scene on the bronze plaque, brought back memories of how the commander of their company would observe the North Korean lines through his binoculars.  The plaque design also features a crushed bugle at the bottom representing the defeat of the enemy. Bugles were used by the enemy to signal their charges. 

In preparation for the dedication the windows of the school above the monument were decorated with the flags of the twenty nations that fought with the U.S. or provided medical support.  Prior to the dedication, a luncheon was held for 300 veterans, guests, and dignitaries.  In addition, special medals were presented to the Korean era veterans and family members of the 13 Perry Countians who fell during the conflict.  The student body and about 500 community members attended the dedication ceremony, which featured Vincent Krepps, a Korean War veteran and recipient of the Silver Star for heroism, as the keynote speaker.  

Mr. Krepps lost his twin brother in a North Korean POW camp.  He is good
friends with Mr. Dean Metz of Perry County, a Korean War veteran from Perry County who also lost his twin brother in Korea.  West Perry was an official member of the Community Partners Program, a Defense Department commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War.  The Executive Director of the program, Gen. Nels Running, who also spoke at the dedication.  The monument was unveiled by ten relatives of the 13 from the county who fell, including Dean Metz and the widow of Lt. Ramer, the sole Medal of Honor recipient from Perry County.  Biographies of each of the 13 Perry Countians were published in our local paper the week of the dedication.

Korean War Monument photo gallery (wmv file)


Vietnam War Monument
Dedicated May 26, 2006

Vietnam War MonumentAfter the dedication of monuments honoring veterans of World War II and the Korean War, it was only fitting that a monument be dedicated to those who fought and died to protect the citizens of Vietnam. This monument is doubly important due to the fact that veterans returning from Vietnam were not given the welcome home that they deserved. The design for the monument came from a compilation of ideas and designs submitted in a design contest, and represents Vietnam veterans returning home from the jungle to a scene recognizable as the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. There are stars on the map of Vietnam representing where the Perry Countians were killed “in country.” In addition to the main stone, there are two beveled stones to the sides, which contain the phrase “They Gave All They Had” on each, and the names of the 11 Perry Countians killed during the conflict. The India black granite, used in the monument, is the same type used on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Prior to the dedication, State Representative Mark Keller presented medals to over 200 Vietnam era veterans, most of whom were from Perry County. In addition, a booklet entitled “Our Eleven”, containing stories of the Perry Countians who died in Vietnam, was published in a special supplement in the local newspaper. All family members received a copy of the booklet and the stories are used in our PA History classes. Over 80 framed pictures of the new monument were created and presented to the family members of those lost in the conflict. In addition to the photograph, each frame included a rubbing of the name of that family’s loved one, which were taken from the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. A luncheon was also provided for 600, including veterans and their family members. Relatives of all 13 named on the bevels participated in the unveiling. This included 3 Gold Star Mothers (Swartz, Sheibley & Fry). One (Kline) is homebound and was unable to attend.

Although it rained, some of the ceremony, including the unveiling, occurred outside. Many have commented that the rain fit the solemn occasion. Others mentioned that we stood in the rain to show our respect for the sacrifices of our Vietnam veterans.

Read "The Wall"  by Sergeant Major J. R. (Bob) Mulkey
Vietnam War Monument photo gallery (wmv file)

Veterans Memorial Grove
 The Battle of Mogadishu Monument

Dedicated April 20, 2007

Veterans Memorial GroveVeterans Memorial Grove was created to be a peaceful spot in which to contemplate the sacrifices of the more than 43 million veterans who have served in the United States since its birth in 1776.  To symbolize these sacrifices for freedom, 43 new trees, one for each million veterans to serve, were planted in a 6 acre arboretum located behind West Perry High School.  In autumn, the falling of the leaves will bring a reminder of the burdens endured by the families of fallen veterans. However, the greening and flowering of the trees in spring will provide a vision of renewal, rebirth, and hope for the future.

Battle of Mogadishu PlaqueRanger Creed Plaque

Medal of Honor - Randall Shughart

Veteran’s Memorial Grove was dedicated along with the Mogadishu Memorial. This memorial consists of two boulders, each containing a bronze plaque.  One plaque lists the names of the 19 men killed in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, including Randall Shughart, a posthumous Medal of Honor recipient whose parents live in Perry County.  This action was depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down.”  The other plaque contains the Ranger’s Creed in honor of the U.S. Army Rangers, who participated in the Battle of Mogadishu.  Of the 43 trees planted in Veteran’s Grove, 19 are Acer Rubrum October Glory maple trees, which further pay homage to the 19 soldiers killed during that battle.  Randall Shughart’s parents, as well as Earl Fillmore’s mother and many members of the Fillmore family unveiled the monument.

Mogadishu Photo Gallery (wmv file)

Perry County Iraq & Afghanistan casualties

A future memorial will be placed in the grove for Jason Frye & Brent Dunkleberger, David Dietrich, and Scott Ball.  Jason, Brent and Scott were West Perry graduates.  David graduated from Susquenita High School.  Jason, Brent and David were killed in action in Iraq.  Scott was killed in action in Afghanistan.  The planning of this memorial will begin after the conclusion of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.