By Dave Huckaby
War Memorial Foundation
On Nov. 5, members of the White Pine War Memorial Foundation will participate in a Veteran’s Day assembly at White Pine High School to honor our veterans. The five year old group will unveil a special WWI memorial paying tribute to the 36 men with ties to White Pine County who died in the war.
The foundation was founded over five years ago and has “memorialized the 135 men who lost their lives in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. The tributes are on display at WPHS and all were designed by local students. There is an important story, however, that is a prelude and inspiration to what the current foundation stands for.
It was 20 years ago when a dedicated group of patriots began planning a wonderful tribute to our fallen White Pine heroes in the downtown Ely Courthouse Park. The original proposal for the project stated: “For many years patriotic citizens of WP County have hankered for a MEMORIAL in tribute to sacrificed servicemen who went to war and never returned.”
One of the prime supporters was Bill Flangas, a WWII Navy veteran who was residing in Las Vegas. Bill spearheaded a task force that included Keith Ashworth, Jim Benson, Neal Corbett, Steve Drakulich, Pete Echeverria, Jack Fleming, Earl Hill, Asay Johnson and Mike Lemich.
Under the group’s direction, a comprehensive working plan was developed and a special War Memorial Fund was established at First National Bank of Ely. An estimated $25,000 was needed to move forward and the citizens of White Pine were up to the challenge. Many local businesses, too many to mention, generously donated their time and money for the project and Bud Bradley, without hesitation, personally convinced three foundations to support the effort. He was personally responsible for raising over one half the funds for the memorial.
Flangas wrote in a letter to George Carnes, Publisher of the Ely Daily Times on June 3rd, 1996:
“George Tate single mindedly devoted his time and immense talent in designing the monument. He did this free of charge. Mike Lemich energetically responded to every need, pushed for timely completion, and drove for quality. We would have never made it without him. Jim Benson went door to door soliciting funds, plus served as Treasurer for the Foundation. Jack Fleming repeated wrote, goaded, and reminded us all that we were negligent and tardy in all our remembrances. Neal Corbett’s research and professional write-ups on the fallen soldiers focused key attention on our efforts to be successful”
When the Memorial was dedicated in 1996, a list of “who’s who” from White Pine were on hand. The group included Jim Benson, Father Caesar Caviglia, Neal Corbett, Bob Dolezal, Jack Fleming, Bill Flangas, Dan Gubic, Bill Ireland, Mike Lemich Wayne Pearson and designer George Tate.
In addition to corporate donations by the Cord Foundation, the Robert Hawkins Foundation and the Wiegard Foundation, more than 200 individuals and businesses donated more than $23,000 to make the project a reality. Gifts in kind were also provided by Mt. Wheeler Power, Linnell Electric, Joe Krympotic, U S Rentals, and Ernie Flangas, to name a few.
The people of White Pine County continue to honor and support our Veterans. The great group of men and women who were responsible for the Downtown War Memorial are truly patriots and heroes. Even after 20 years, their dedication to our Veterans is truly an inspiration and is the foundation by which the current White Pine War Memorial Foundation was reborn.
The WWI Memorial will be unveiled on Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. at White Pine High School as part of a special Veteran’s Day assembly hosted by Principal Adam Young and Commissioner Richard Howe.
The public is invited.