Army Ranger memorial dedicated in Harrison City
James Bell made four trips to Vietnam during the 1990s in an attempt to find closure to his one-year tour of duty.
Those journeys back, Bell says, helped inspire him to build a memorial to the 51 from the K Company of the 75th Ranger Infantry Regiment who died between 1967 and 1972.
The resulting tribute is in one of the most personal possible places: the back yard of the semi-retired police officer's home in Harrison City.
“The men that I served with in Vietnam became my brothers and my family,” Bell, 66, said at the dedication of the memorial on Aug. 24. “When one was killed in combat, you wept and prayed for his soul.”
Several elected officials and military veterans participated in the dedication ceremony. The guest list of about 125 people included 13 Ranger veterans.
The site includes a memorial stone, bricks that have been stamped with the names of the 51 Rangers, a flag pole and two benches.
“Memorials, they're all over our state, but to have one here in a neighborhood lets everybody see every day … a constant reminder of what happened in Vietnam,” state Sen. Kim Ward, R-39, said.
After receiving his invitation to the ceremony, state Rep. George Dunbar, R-56, said he drove over to take a sneak peek before the dedication.
“I was stunned,” said Dunbar, who lives about three miles away. “My breath was just taken away.”
One of the more emotional points in the ceremony came when Roger Crunk, the K Company unit director for the 75th Ranger Regiment Association, recounted the death of one of the honored Rangers, Evelio Alfred Gomez, during an ambush of their helicopter in August 1970.
Crunk, who said he looked into Gomez's eyes after a bullet hit him, said the death is a heavy load that he has carried for every day since then.
Only years later, when he heard The Hollies' “He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother” play on a radio station, did Crunk find peace.
“At that moment, it was as if someone had lifted that 80-pound pack that we used to carry up and down the mountains in the jungles of Vietnam from my shoulders,” said Crunk, who lives in Colorado.
“Now, the load is light, and I'm happy to carry the memory of my brother.”
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sunoco mistakenly puts part of pipeline on Penn Township land
- Penn Township officials move to ban fracking ponds
- Level Green VFD nears closing on Proskin rec center
- Workers at Penn-Trafford High School discover damaged pipes
- Trafford Council streamlines problem-tenant ordinance