The Vietnam War Memorial in Montrose is special and unique. It was built in 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War. In a effort spearheaded by Don Carpenter, a second-generation publisher of the Ledger Newspaper, a community came together to honor the sacrifice of local residents who lost their lives fighting in the Vietnam War. The cost to build the memorial was $1800 and the Ledger Newspaper that Don Carpenter owned gave the first $1000. Don Carpenter wrote an article in The Ledger asking for donations. The people in the community began to give what they could to bring in the rest of the money needed. They gave so much in fact Don had to tell people to stop sending donations. On Friday, June 14, 1968, Flag Day, the Montrose Vietnam War Memorial was dedicated. Brig. Gen. Phillip J. Donovan of the United States Air Force Reserve officiated with the assistance of many military personnel. U.S. Air Force jets flew over the moving service. On that day the names of 7 servicemen were on the wall. Sadly, today there are 19 names.

According to the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA 446) and Congressman David Drier’s office, it is the very first memorial in the Nation dedicated exclusively to soldiers that lost their lives in the Vietnam War. There are 19 names on the wall. The service men are listed as residents from Montrose, La Crescenta, La Canada and Tujunga according to the official Internet database of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. of local fallen service men from the Vietnam War.

In the 1970s, Don Carpenter turned to his friend Frank Roberts, the caretaker for the memorial for some 30 years and lovingly known as “Mr. Montrose”, to create and perpetuate the tradition of this Memorial Day service which has continued every year since. Please join us for our Memorial Day service that takes place every Memorial Day at 8am sharp at the North West corner of Ocean View Blvd. and Honolulu Ave. in Montrose, CA.

The wall was designed by local prominent architect Jack Simison who also designed the Montrose Shopping Park and its winding promenades and the La Canada Country Club and was built by the Robert Genofile Co., a local businessman as well.

Knowing that this was memorial was recognized as the first built in the nation to specifically honor service men who gave their lives during the Vietnam War, we wanted to make sure it did just that. On March 30, 1973, after all U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam, our service men returned home. There were no ticker-tape parades honoring the veterans, no triumphant marches or speeches as there had been at the end of each of the World Wars. America's Vietnam veterans returned home to silence, or worse, in some cases to disgust for having served their country during a controversial war. Though the 3 million Americans who served during this country’s most divisive military campaign since the Civil War earned a hero’s welcome home, they didn’t get one. Some were spat upon. Some were called baby killers and warmongers. Some were treated not as people who had served when their country called, but as people to be ignored or, worse, scorned. That is why this commemoration it titled, “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” This is our chance, as a community, to “Welcome Back” and remember those who gave their lives in service to this county.

In April 2013 the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce partnered with veterans from VFW Post 1614 and American Legion Post 288, many of them Vietnam Veterans themselves, to have the first annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. It was an event for Veterans, led by Veterans and one that we hope will become annual. Following is the story how Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day was officially recognized by the federal government. In 2000, a group of Veterans in California began a campaign to recognize the service, honor, courage and loyalty of those that served in and during the Vietnam War. They choose the date of March 30, the date when the last combat troops left Vietnam. In 2004, California Representative Linda Sanchez heard about this cause and took it to the nation’s capitol in Washington DC. In 2006, the US congress and Senate unanimously passed resolutions proclaiming March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. In 2009 California became the first state to pass legislation recognizing March 30 as WHVVD. Finally, in 2012 the White House signed an Executive Order proclaiming March 29 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. So please come to this event to support and honor our local Veterans. For more information, please contact the VFW Post 1614 or the American Legion Post 288. This is our chance to Welcome them back as a community and remember those who gave their lives in service to this county.

At the Memorial site, you will also find plaques dedicated to Don Carpenter and Frank Roberts. In 1980, when Don Carpenter passed away, Frank Roberts erected the concrete pedestal that stands to the right of the memorial. In 2006, at the suggestion of Mr. Bill Dodson, a World War II military veteran and father of 2 Vietnam War Veterans, who has tirelessly watched over and taken care of the memorial since the 1970’s suggested the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. created a plaque honoring Frank Roberts and placed it next to Don Carpenter's.

The Crescenta Valley also has another memorial site that honors veterans from all branches of the military service who are from our local area that gave their lives in service to our country. It is called the Two Strike War Memorial. Here is their mission: “In keeping with the spirit of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Verdugo Hills Post 288 and VFW Post 1614 have come together to rededicate Two Strike War Memorial Park in La Crescenta. We have joined forces to preserve the memories and to honor all Fallen Heroes from Crescenta Valley who have given their lives for our freedom. This memorial will hold their names for all to see and be a true recognition of our sincere gratitude for their sacrifice.” www.twostrikememorial.org

Names on the Wall

Callen James Courtemanche
Corporal U.S. Marine Corps
1947 – 1968

Fred B Beckermann, Jr
Lance Corporal – U.S. Marine Corps
1946 – 1966

Gary Nels Nelson
Corporal U.S. Marine Corps
1945 – 1966

Gregory Paul Kelly
Lance Corporal – U.S. Marine Corps
1944 – 1967

Jack Dennis Downs
Private 1st Class – U.S. Army
1947 – 1968

James Reginald Bauder
Captain – U.S. Navy
1931 – 1966

Jerry Ray Murphy
Specialist 5th Class – U.S. Army
1945 – 1966

John Patrick Lee
Specialist 4th Class – U.S. Army
1946 – 1967

Loren Eugene Engsrtom
Warrant Officer – U.S. Army
1945 – 1968

LT John C Sweet USN
USS Scorpion (SSN-589)
Lost at Sea
1942 – 1968

LTJG William A Pederson
U.S. Navy Pilot and FTL
1945 – 1970

Manuel Miranda
Specialist 5th Class – U.S. Army
1949 – 1971

Michael Anthony Najarian
Naval Hospital Corpsman – U.S. Marine Corps
1944 – 1966

Michael David Sheahan
Private 1st Class – U.S. Army
1949 – 1968

Norman Richard Kidd
Captain – U.S. Army
1936 – 1967

Patrick Owen Quinn
Lance Corporal – U.S. Marine Corps
1945 – 1966

Ralph N. Duemling
1st Lieutenant U.S. Marine Corps
1945 – 1970

Richard C. Ramsey
Sergeant U.S. Air Force
1944 – 1968

Robert A. Chapp
Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps
1939 – 1967

Roy Allen Fryman
Gunnery Sergeant – U.S. Marine Corps
1933 – 1969