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Homefront: Covington honors fallen Vietnam soldiers with relocated memorial

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 20:50:28-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — The recent withdrawal from Afghanistan brought with it many comparisons to the end of the Vietnam War.

Now, there is a new push in Covington to ensure that those who died during the Vietnam War get the recognition they deserve.

Chuck Wills is a Vietnam veteran who is part of a group behind a movement to move a stone and plaque near Meinken Park to a new home at the corner of East 38th and Church streets in Latonia.

"Gary Lee Hall was one of the last members killed in the Vietnam War listed as MIA," Wills said.

He said the movement to relocate the memorial, last updated with the name of the missing Covington soldier in 1989, came about thanks to a donation made by a local church.

"The church donated our property," Wills said. "They let us use their land here. They wanted something bigger and better. So moving that rock turned into about a $160,000 project."

The plaque and project carry a lot of weight for Wills and other veterans.

"This gentleman here, David Stoppelwerth ... He enlisted in West Chester, Ohio, but he lived in Covington and he was left off because service records showed he was from West Chester," Wills said. "I think there's five on there that I grew up with, I went to school, ran around with."

The memorial means a lot to even those in the community who did not serve in the military.

"My brother, he was in Vietnam," said Denny Madden, who did not himself serve.

But Madden is serving now by helping to coordinate area contractors who have donated their time and materials to make the monument a reality.

"Heck of a feeling to be involved in this," Madden said.

Bill Batson, who designed the memorial, said its color is significant.

"There's only one color in this project and that's the red brick and that symbolizes blood," Batson said.

The symbolic blood flows from beneath the plaque-covered stone, cascading across the monument to one of the many benches surrounding it.

"As you're sitting there meditating, you're really bringing yourself into this monument," Batson said.

There are still a few touches to complete on the monument.

"Got landscaping, and build one more stand for the fallen soldier," Wills said.

The team behind the monument is in the home stretch with a few other minor details to finish so the community will have a proper place to honor the 31 who did not come home alive from Vietnam and the thousands of others who never got a welcome home.

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, email homefront@wcpo.com. You also can join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook and find more Homefront stories here.

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