Montesano Vietnam memorial moving to Fleet Park

The move was okayed by the Montesano City Council at their last meeting, held Aug. 23.

The memorial plaque currently honors Private First Class Johnny Chambers, who was thought to be the only Montesano casualty of the Vietnam War. His classmates, from the Montesano High School class of 1959, installed the memorial along with a white fir tree many years ago.

Councilman Dan Wood said at the meeting that for about four decades Chambers was believed to have been the only person from Montesano who died in Vietnam. Recently, a second man, David Ira Hiner, was discovered to be a casualty of that war.

Harner, Spc. 4, was an infantryman in the 1st Cavalry Division when he was killed in action on Nov. 15, 1967, in South Vietnam.

At the city council meeting, former Montesano mayor Ken Estes said Harner had not been memorialized in any way.

Further, Wood said the Chambers’ memorial is not in a very prominent location and has been damaged by mowers running over the plaque. Rather than adding a second memorial at Bryan Park, Wood and Estes said a new memorial, possibly made of black marble, could be installed at Fleet Park, along with the other war memorials already there.

Additionally, said Estes, there is no parking at Bryan Park, and to do what’s proper — installing a flagpole and accompanying lights — would be very expensive.

The memorial is expected to cost about $1,500 but Estes said about half those funds had already been pledged. Dedication of the memorial may take place next Memorial Day, in the spring of 2017. He said former Army friends of Harner’s may attend.

While Estes said he has contacted relatives of Harner, they have not responded. Chambers’ sister and a former classmate have agreed that Chambers’ memorial could be relocated.

“We’d like to make it something to be proud of — that Montesano is honoring its own boys,” Estes said.