The ceremony was hardly over before Patricia and Dianne Willis were at the wall, looking for their husbands’ names. The Marion J. Bogdanovich Veterans Memorial Wall in Montesano was officially unveiled Saturday morning in Fleet Park, and the brothers were among the more than 300 Monte veterans whose names were engraved in the granite.
Dianne’s husband Stanley was a Marine platoon leader who served in Vietnam. Like many vets from that war, he struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder decades before it was well diagnosed and treated. The memorial was a welcome change from the reception he had received on his homecoming from the war.
“Stanley was chased down the street, he dropped his sea bag and ran for his life,” Dianne said of his arrival in San Francisco.
For decades, Stanley struggled with alcohol as a way of trying to cope with his PTSD, but had been in recovery since 1991 and worked to help others — particularly veterans — with alcohol abuse until his death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in June. ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is considered a service-related illness.
Stanley’s brother, Harvey, was less talkative about his experiences in Vietnam. He served in the Army, repairing and test-flying helicopters, even flying on some missions. He, too, wasn’t well-received when he came home. One of the things he did say, Patricia remembered, was that there had been protests when he came back. Harvey died in 2010.
At the ceremony Saturday, the feeling toward veterans couldn’t have been more different. More than 250 people crowded into Fleet Park to hear the Montesano High School band play, Miss Grays Harbor Melissa Hornback and her sisters Tonya and Stephanie sing, and see the wall unveiled after months of preparation. The memorial is named for Bogdanovich, a Marine who died in 2008, because of his service both in the military and to Montesano on his return. He advocated for children and veterans.
Guy Bogdanovich, son of the man everyone knew as “Bogey,” spoke at the ceremony.
“I think it’s long overdue,” he said of the memorial. He gave his “heartfelt thanks” to those who came and for naming the memorial for his father, but added that there were many worth recognizing from the tight-knit town.
“This memorial could have been named just as rightly for any one of you who made the decision to serve,” he said.
His mother, Ramona, was also pleased with the wall. She was married to Bogey for 54 years.
“He would love it,” she said. “He was a precious man.”
Mayor Ken Estes, a Navy veteran himself, read the poem “Veterans” and a proclamation honoring the service of Monte’s veterans and the anonymous donor who funded the wall.
“I’ve heard many times that Montesano residents have a love affair with Montesano. I see it every day,” Estes said. “I’m honored to be mayor of a town that honors its veterans.”
State Sen. Brian Hatfield and congressional candidate Bill Driscoll also attended. Driscoll, a Marine, said the strong turnout and numerous veterans made sense for a small town like Monte.
“It’s a good indication of where most of our military comes from,” Driscoll said.
After the ceremony, it didn’t take Dianne and Patricia very long to spot their husbands among the past and present military service members. Both were on the completed panel of the wall — the other had been held up in customs on its way from Italy and the engraving wasn’t finished before the dedication. Estes said a third panel might be needed in the near future to hold all the names the Monte VFW has received.
Both women were pleased with the memorial and said it fit nicely with their husbands’ efforts to help other veterans. “One of the things they always did with other veterans is say ‘Welcome home,’ ” Dianne recalled. “This came up right before he passed. It was sort of the last thing I could do for him.”
“I think they’d be proud,” Patricia said of the memorial.
Names can still be submitted for the memorial wall for a $50 engraving fee. Names can be submitted by veterans or their family members along with a copy of their DD214 form and some proof they lived in Montesano. Call the Montesano VFW post at 249-3631 with any questions.