As Jerry Eversman leafs through his box of materials on the Vietnam War, he laments the lack of appreciation veterans felt when they returned home.
"They have never felt appreciated," he said. "They were never applauded for a job well done. There was no recognition."
Now, more than 30 years after the war's end, Oregon's Vietnam veterans are getting the recognition Mr. Eversman believes they deserve.
A permanent memorial to Vietnam veterans will be placed at Clay High School near the football stadium, to the left of the World War II memorial. The memorial will be dedicated at noon on Oct. 18.
The memorial, which cost about $4,500 to build, was funded by donations from local organizations and private individuals. The memorial is made of American black granite and stands about five feet tall.
The memorial is dedicated "to the men and women of Oregon and Jerusalem Township who served in the Vietnam War" and is inscribed with the words "all gave some, some gave all."
It lists the names of eight men from Oregon who died in the war: Esiquio A. Cantu; Scott D. Corrello; Gerald E. Corlett; Joseph G. Gill; Ervin E. Harris; Arthur J. Heringhausen, Jr., John M. Thayer. and John W. Vaughan.
Mr. Eversman, who is not a Vietnam veteran, is the chairman of the Oregon Vietnam Memorial group, an organization dedicated to honor the men and women of Oregon and Jerusalem Township who served in that war.
The group is a subcommittee of the Toledo chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
The group, founded last December, meets monthly and has about 10 active members, eight of whom are Vietnam veterans.
Mr. Eversman became interested in Vietnam veterans after he volunteered to write a piece about one of the soldiers, entitled "A Decorated Soldier: Art Heringhausen, Jr., Remembered," for the Clay High School Alumni and Friends Association, the high school's biannual alumni magazine. He chronicled the life of his former neighbor, Mr. Heringhausen.
Mr. Heringhausen, known as "Butch" to his friends and family, graduated from Clay in 1967 and enlisted in the army when he was 17.
He wrote numerous letters home, detailing his wartime experiences.
He was part of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) elite unit that went behind enemy lines for days at a time, and was killed in an epic battle in November, 1968.
Mr. Heringhausen's family received an explanation of his death by way of a commendation that accompanied the presentation of the Silver Star to his brother in April, 1969.
However, it was through interviewing Vietnam veterans who had served with Mr. Heringhausen that Mr. Eversman learned that his death had been heroic.
He was able to help Mr. Heringhausen's brother, Ron, connect with the living veterans who had fought alongside his brother in battle.
Mr. Heringhausen was posthumously awarded numerous honors, including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star.
After writing the piece, Mr. Eversman felt compelled to research the lives of the six other Oregon residents who had died during the war.
Wendy Woodell, the media center coordinator for the Clay library, and Debbie Deem, the high school's registrar, compiled a list of former Clay students who had died during military service to the country and were looking for more information to compile biographies.
Mr. Eversman began researching all the lives, making contact with veterans across the country to learn more about the men of Oregon.
Complete information about each of the soldiers can be found at the organization's Web site, www.oregonvietnammemorial.com.
Now that his Vietnam goals have been attained, Mr. Eversman is researching the Clay students who died in the Korean War and hopes to have a memorial constructed by Memorial Day next year.
Eric Heintschel, president of the Oregon City Schools board, called the memorial "a great addition."
"We want to make sure we recognize and remember those individuals who gave their life to our country, particularly the graduates of our school who were involved in the Vietnam conflict," he said.
Mr. Eversman frequently gives talks about his research efforts.
"The story is so gripping. I'm just drawn to it," he said. He said his work has been bolstered by "the Internet and the kindness of the veterans."
He added: "Even though the war was fought oceans away, it still comes to Oregon and impacts the community."