Caraway Vetearns' Committee looking for names

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A group of Caraway residents have organized and started a campaign to fund a monument to honor veterans from all branches of the military who call Caraway home.

The Caraway Cemetery will soon be the home of a veterans' monument honoring veterans, living and deceased, who call Caraway home.

The committee chair is Shirley Redding. Other committee members include Jean Jeffers, Gail Ramsey, Kim Kelton, and Jerry and Ann Vaughn.

"I saw a veteran's monument in another town which gave me the idea," Redding said. "My first thought was why can't we do this for our veterans. I started talking to Jean in November and others joined us and the idea turned into a project."

They talked to city officials and got their approval to go forward with the project.

This large monument will feature engraved names of all veterans from Caraway, along with the symbols for the Army, Marines, Coat Guard, Navy, Air Force and National Guard.

"Even if they did not serve during wartime, they served our country and were willing to go if they were called," Redding said. "We have had a lot of men and women from our town who have served in the military."

The monument will be located in the Caraway Cemetery. There is an area north of the flagpole that was once a road. Now it is covered in grass. This will be a perfect spot as no one is buried in this area and there is room for the large monument, concrete base, benches, etc. It will be wheelchair accessible.

"We are proud of the flag pole which was given to us by a former Caraway resident, Gary Meadows," Redding said. "It was at the former fair grounds in Jonesboro and Gary got it for the cemetery and we appreciate it."

Caraway is the home of Nick Bacon, Medal of Honor recipient. His name will be among the hundreds placed on the monument.

"We want all of our veterans listed," Redding said. "Mark Shasteen has given us a list of almost 400 names and we know there are so many more."

They have around 800 names to be engraved and they are asking for names of veterans from World War I to the present.

"It is amazing how many have served from this area in this small town," Ramsey said. "I grew up with a girl whose father was in World War II. He would never talk about the war when we were growing up. Later in life he did an interview with one of my students for an assignment and I discovered he was on the Battleship USS Meridith and in October of 1942 his crew was on their way to replenish aviation fuel for the troops the ship was destroyed. He, along with other crew members, were in the water for three days before they were rescued. He was one of less than 100 survivors. Our veterans have so many stories. We walk among heroes all these years as children and we never knew."

The committee and other volunteers are working on fundraisers to fund the monument.

"We want to do the project without having to charge individuals for names if we can," Redding said. "We want as many names as we can get up front because it will be much more expensive to go back later and have names added."

To submit a name of a Caraway veteran, living or deceased, contact Redding at (870) 482-3367 or Jeffers at 482-3950.

"As far as I know, we have had 17 Caraway natives killed in action," Redding said. "That is another source of information we are looking for."

The committee and volunteers held a bake sale the day before Easter and raised over $1,400. They are planning a Boston Butt sale with pick up May 24 after 2 p.m. at Poor Boys Garden in Caraway. Kenny Weathers and Leland Dowless will be smoking butts and the cost is $25. To place an order call either Redding or Jeffers.

Another fund raiser will include the sale of tee-shirts and hot dogs at the annual Caraway Fourth of July picnic. They are also hoping to have an auction in the fall and a benefit basketball game.

"We have also had a few donations," Redding said. "It may take us a couple of years to raise the money but we feel strongly about this project to honor our veterans. We are proud of them and they all deserve this. They sacrificed for us. We really ask family members to submit names of veterans from Caraway. We want all of them included in this monument. It is going to be a tribute to them."

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