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Langley’s war memorial project nears completion

Roy Simmons (right), of Langley, shows Keith Iverson the war memorial’s plaque on Thursday. It honors 11 Langley High School students who died in World War II and the Korean War; Simmons’ brother Stanley among them. - Roy Jacobson / The Record
Roy Simmons (right), of Langley, shows Keith Iverson the war memorial’s plaque on Thursday. It honors 11 Langley High School students who died in World War II and the Korean War; Simmons’ brother Stanley among them.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

LANGLEY — The city’s neglected war memorial was back on solid ground in its new home Thursday, a drop-kick away from the end zone.

“We wanted to give it a more prominent location,” said Rachel Kizer, coordinator of a two-year effort to honor Langley’s war dead.

The burnished concrete monument, about 1-foot-by-2-feet wide and 3-feet tall and sitting on a wider concrete pedestal, contains a plaque with the names of

11 Langley High School students, who went off to World War II or the Korean War and didn’t return.

Named on the memorial are Paul Applegate, Delbert Drake, Lloyd Francis, Robert Orr, Stanley Simmons, Harold Bloomquist, Robert Fiske, Ernest Moser, Thomas Poyneer, Rafael Mylly and Charles Greenshield.

Dedicated in September 1955 at halftime of the Langley-Monroe football game by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, the monument originally was at the other end of the playing field, where it remained for years, near the current scoreboard. Then vegetation grew around it.

Long after the high school became the middle school, a dog-walker discovered the monument, and rescue efforts began. The monument was muscled across the football field, and Thursday it was surrounded by an 8-foot-wide circular concrete base.

A 20-foot flagpole was to be put in place Friday afternoon, donated by the students at the middle school, and Kizer hopes benches and a garden will come later.

“A lot of the community didn’t even know it was there,” said Kizer, a social studies teacher for 22 years. “It’s about getting the names of these men back out there so they can be remembered.”

Roy Simmons, 71, of Langley, has played a large part in the project. His brother Stanley died in World War II at age 18.

Simmons was 5 when his brother died, and he remembers playing football on the same field in 1955 when the monument was dedicated. As part of that ceremony, the gridiron was renamed “South Whidbey Memorial Field.”

“I’m glad we’re doing this,” Simmons said. He and Bob Gabelein, president of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars, did much of the digging and setting, and on Thursday, Simmons helped Clinton concrete finisher Keith Iverson tamp the new base smooth.

Materials were donated by Hanson’s Building Supply of Langley and Rempel Brothers Concrete of Greenbank, Kizer said.

Kizer hopes to have the memorial rededicated this fall at Veteran’s Day ceremonies at the middle school, and she also hopes the new American flag will fly every day during the school year.

“I really believe in this country and the sacrifice made by these men,” she said. “They should have their due.”

Meanwhile, Kizer and others are searching for area high school students who left without graduating to take part in the Vietnam War. She said the law was changed by the last state Legislature to allow those veterans to receive diplomas.

Kizer said that if people are located, she hopes they will take part in the school’s rededication ceremony.

“Wouldn’t that be great?” she said.

For information, contact the South Whidbey School District Service Center at 221-6100.

Roy Jacobson can be reached at 221-5300 or rjacobson@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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