LIMA — In the parking lot of the Allen County Fairgrounds, north of where the Tri-State Gun Collectors Show is being held, sits a solemn display.
The names of those Ohio veterans still unaccounted for is displayed on a black wall.
The display is a project of the Chained Eagles.
For Steve Morris, an Air Force veteran from Lima, who served in Germany at the tail end of the Vietnam War, the wall really hits home.
“I’ve never seen it before, didn’t even know it was here or that it existed really,” said Morris who looked at the names of the service men still missing. “I’ve often wondered if any of these people are ever going to come back, or even their remains. It’s kind of humbling really.”
Jack Hagerman is a member of the Chained Eagles and was on hand to answer questions.
Hagerman has been a member of the organization for 20 years after being recruited by one of the founding members. He’s seen all sorts of reactions to their display.
“It depends on who the people are. In my 20 years, I’ve met the parents of these people that are on this wall, which are prisoners of war and missing in action from southeast Asia. Nationwide, three thousand did not come home. There’s 134 names on this wall just from Ohio and if there’s a date off to the right, they’ve been recovered and brought home,” Hagerman said.
So why does Hagerman think we’ve forgotten these veterans?
“Because it’s a non-issue anymore. They’ve been forgotten for 50 years. We’ll never let them forget. This can never happen again, and that’s why we’re still here,” he said.
“History has a way of repeating itself and it will repeat itself if you forget this 25 years from now. Right now the kids that are coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq, they get it. From Beirut on, they understand completely. POW/MIAs is a non-issue because we made it that way,” he said.
Most of the names on the wall are still unaccounted for. International relations with Vietnam have taken a back seat to other world issues.
“We have normalized relations with them but it doesn’t seem like that to us. It’s all a money and political thing,” he said.
The Chained Eagles display will remain up until 3 p.m. today at the Allen County Fairgrounds.
Reach Sam Shriver 567-242-0409.