Town to have wall memorial for veterans

Monday, May 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ENID, Okla. (AP) -- Elaine Johns says a viewing of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" made her realize the magnitude of her grandfather's sacrifice when he served in World War II.

And she wanted to thank him and other veterans like him. So Johns has helped organize a communitywide tribute.

Enid is opening a two-acre veterans park in front of the Woodring Municipal Airport with 4-by-8-foot granite walls with the names of military veterans in northwestern Oklahoma.

More walls, made from natural Oklahoma granite, will be added later to the Woodring Wall of Honor.

Eventually, the organizers hope the veterans park will have a museum displaying uniforms and other military memorabilia.

Johns, general manager of a company offering charter flight service and a flight school at the airport, said she didn't
participate in the military.

But families members have.

"I have five generations on the wall," Johns said. "I have my great-great grandfather who was in the Civil War. I have my grandfather who jumped out on Omaha Beach. I have my dad who was the first pilot to take an F-14 through Top Gun. I have my brother who is currently flying F-18s in California, and my future son-in-law is in the Army National Guard."

Enid planned festivities today that were to include a parade and dedication ceremony with an honor guard from Vance Air Force Base, about 1,000 veterans and a U.S. Coast Guard honor team taking part.

The emblems of the five branches of the military are on front of the granite walls. The back of the walls include the names of men
and women who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces.

"We feel like every service member who went in made the same sacrifice," Johns said. "It was unfortunate that there are some who were fallen and gave their lives for our freedom. But because of those who did come back, they were able to make us the nation we
are today, and they need to be honored, too."

Service members or relatives interested in placing a name on the wall are asked for a $25 donation to help defray expenses, Johns

Work on the park started last September when volunteers restored an F4-C Phantom fighter used in the Vietnam War, Johns said.

Two key volunteers, Lonnie Gillespie and Dr. Roy Camp, a retired doctor, headed up the jet renovation. Johns started work on designing the walls while Don Cornell, manager of the Woodring airport, helped develop the site.

Johns is working to get more military equipment that can be displayed outdoors.

"I'm trying to get a World War II landing craft," she said.