American Legion members creating a permanent memorial to Whidbey Island’s fallen soldiers need help gathering names for the tribute.
The partially complete memorial will fill the sloping entrance to American Legion Post 141, which is located off Highway 525, south of Bayview Corner on South Whidbey.
Flags already wave high above five large headstones, each representing a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces — Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
A wooden sculpted centerpiece symbolizing a fallen soldier — a pair of boots with rifle and helmet — is being created by local artist Dexter Lewis.
Names will be placed on the cement stone matching the branch of service of the deceased.
“We plan to have plaques made for each service member that has fallen during a war,” said Bruce Lougheed, first vice commander of Post 141. “We are in need of help from those in the community that have the names and branch of service of anyone that fell during a war or died as a result of wounds received during a war.”
The memorial criteria may change, but for now any military service member who died “from any war at all is eligible,” Lougheed said. “If they died in combat or of wounds from combat, and they’re from the island, that’s what we want. Eventually we may expand on that.”
The post has been wanting to contribute a war memorial for a number of years. Tributes to fallen soldiers exist in a few communities, such as Langley and Oak Harbor, Lougheed said, but none cover all Whidbey Island residents.
“The one in Langley has two or three names and it’s rather hidden,” he said. “This one is for the public. It’s made to be seen from the road and people can stop, park and look at it.”
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has a memorial for aviators assigned to the electronic attack community who died while on active duty, according to Mike Welding, public affairs officer.
Members of the post have donated their own money to cover the $5,000 memorial building costs, said Lougheed, who’s retired from the Army and is an active member of the legion’s motorcycle Riders group.
“Once we get the headstones faced and the monument up, then we’ll have a ceremony,” he said.