WADSWORTH — Forty years after his death in Vietnam, U.S. Army Cpl. Sidney Rohler’s sister, Dee Stewart, saw her brother and 13 other fallen soldiers honored with a plaque and dedication ceremony in Memorial Park on Sunday afternoon.
Rohler was one of 13 soldiers from Wadsworth who died in the Vietnam War between 1967 and 1970. While memorials for soldiers in WWII and the Korean War were already in place at Memorial Park, Stewart and her brother’s best friend, Ron White, organized the Wadsworth 13 Committee to see that Vietnam veterans were honored as well.
“This has helped ease the pain of his death,” Stewart said. “For 40 years I wanted to do something, and I thought, ‘If I’m going to do something, I’d better do it now.’ ”
White said that Wadsworth 13 raised more than $9,000 in donations for the memorial in Memorial Park. The committee also used the funds to purchase a black marble stone bench engraved with the 13 soldiers’ names for the Clinton Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Clinton.
“We began collecting donations in November 2008, when the economy was really bad, and I was afraid people wouldn’t be able to donate, but we ended up getting donations from as far away as Hawaii, from people who lived in Wadsworth and moved away,” White said.
About 50 people attended the dedication ceremony in Memorial Park, which included speeches from Wadsworth Mayor Robin Laubaugh and Adam Friedrich, a retired Marine and candidate for Medina County commissioner. After Stewart and White named the 13 fallen soldiers one by one, the Chesty Puller Young Marines performed a flag ceremony, and the Wadsworth VFW Post 1089 did a 21 gun salute. Joseph Tighe of Boston Top Brass performed taps to close the ceremony.
White said that he and Rohler were friends from the time they were 10 years old. White joined the Marine Corps in 1968, but Rohler “decided to wait and see if he was drafted,” which he was in the summer of 1969.
The last time Stewart saw her brother was on her birthday in December later that year. Rohler was killed in action on March 28, 1970. , Stewart said her brother died instantly after he was shot in the heart.
White escorted Rohler’s body home, she said.
“Back then, you didn’t know how they died for 30 days, and you didn’t know whether it would be open or closed casket until the body arrived home,” she said.
White said the Wadsworth 13 Committee is deciding what to do with funds leftover after the purchase of the marble bench and memorial plaque. Seville Sand & Gravel donated the memorial stone, he said. The Wadsworth 13 Committee might donate the remaining funds to the Clinton Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, or assist a veteran in need, he said.
The other soldiers honored:
— Army Spc. 4th Class Darrell Reid, killed in August 1967;
— Army Sgt. Robert Bowman, killed in January 1968;
— Army Cpl. Paul Bachman, killed in February 1968;
— Army Cpl. Daniel Christian, killed in April 1968;
— Marine Corps. Lt. David Ferguson, killed in March 1969;
— Army Cpl. David Mitchell, killed in 1969;
— U.S. Marine Corps. Lt. Cpl. James Huff, killed in 1969;
— U.S. Army Cpl. Ronald Van-Duzer, killed in June 1969;
— U.S. Army Pvt. 1st Class James Roger Clark, killed in February 1970;
— U.S. Army Sgt. Donald Perkins, Jr., killed in April 1970;
— U.S. Air Force Capt. Alan Trent, missing in action in May 1970;
— U.S. Army Sgt. Bruce Spring, killed in December 1970.
Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.