Duo of Kingman memorials commemorate vets
Unveiling ceremony for Korean, Vietnam war memorials set for Saturday
KINGMAN - Two products of the Cold War - the Korean War and the Vietnam War - are now forever memorialized together in downtown Kingman.
About two years ago, Korean War Veterans Association of Mohave County Commander William Gilfoil started a process to have a Korean War memorial made and situated downtown. He mentioned the project at a Veterans Council meeting, which piqued the interest of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter No. 975 President Ralph McKie. So, Gilfoil suggested the VVA get in on the project and create a memorial, too.
And that's what they did.
Now, both memorials are complete. An official dedication ceremony is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, and members of the public are encouraged to attend. It takes place at Veterans Park (Locomotive Park), 310 W. Beale St.
Both McKie and Gilfoil will speak, along with Mayor John Salem, veterans of both wars and several other Kingman dignitaries.
The memorials, which face each other, feature three plaques apiece. The Korean War memorial's plaques showcase a map of North and South Korea, the years the war took place and a paragraph illustrating the importance of remembering the fallen warriors. Likewise, the Vietnam War memorial's plaques contain a map, the years the war took place and the names of two Kingmanites who served in the Army and died fighting in the conflict. Those two are Maj. John Oliver Arnn, who died December 26, 1965, and Capt. Derrill Lee Burnside, who died May 3, 1971.
For too long, the Korean War was labeled as the forgotten war, as it fell between World War II and the Vietnam War, two of the biggest conflicts in American history, Gilfoil said. Being a Korean War veteran and not getting the recognition has been difficult for the men who served, he added.
"Now it's coming to light," he said.
McKie said the memorials, which the organizations paid for with donations and fundraisers, are there to honor the veterans who made "the ultimate sacrifice."
"I'm really happy with the way the memorials turned out," McKie said.
The city helped out as well, installing the memorials for free, both McKie and Gilfoil said.
In the future, Gilfoil said he would like to see something built for the World War II veterans, and maybe ones for the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, too.
Living in a place where veterans receive community support is something Gilfoil and McKie don't take lightly.
"We're lucky to live in an area that cares about its veterans," Gilfoil said.