On April 14th 21-year-old Lance Corporal Michael J Smith Junior of Wellsburg West Virginia was tragically killed in action defending his country and Iraq.
Michael was mortally wounded attempting to assist a fallen comrade in Ambar province, Iraq
After being notified of his death, former city manager Howard Armstrong worked with city officials to honor Michael at a memorial service on Wellsburg s town square.
During Mr. Armstrong’s speech to family and friends, he promised them that the community would not forget Michael’s sacrifice. Shortly thereafter, Michael’s aunt, Joan Nicholson contacted Mr. Armstrong requesting his support in creating a memorial in Michael’s honor.
After much thought and deliberation the parties agreed that Michael sacrifice would be honored along with all the men and women who gave their lives defending their country from the county during various conflicts from World War I to Iraq, Afghanistan and to present day.
After some preliminary research, it was determined that approximately 150 Brooke County servicemen had lost their lives in conflicts during World War I World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. In addition, literally, thousands of men and women from Brooke county have served their country over the years and should be recognized for their service to their country. As a result, in mid-June 2004 for the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation Inc. was formed.
A cross-section of Brooke County residents agreed to participate in raising the money to build a memorial that would honor all those that served and to memorialize those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The slogan, “all gave some some gave all” was adopted by the foundation. Various Committees were formed for duties. The fundraising committee headed by Nancy Strope provided the seed money for the organization to grow. This lead to major fundraising process headed by Howard Armstrong and assisted by Paul “Bud” Billiard
This fundraising committee is still active for the purpose of maintaining and upgrading the memorial.
The site of the memorial is situated above the Veterans Memorial lake which houses the John G. & Kay Chernenko Memorial Fountain at Brooke Hills Park in Wellsburg, Wv.
Howard Armstrong was the President who initiated this project. After some time he left to take an administrative position in another City. He returned in 2010. He once again became the president and initiated the role of constructing the memorial. Armstrong was the true catalyst in the construction of the memorial His impeccable organization, planning & paying attention to detail were the key essentials. Immediately committees were formed to design, fund, & build the project. Within a year the funds were raised and the memorial was dedicated on November 12, 2012.
The founders of the organization are as follows: Howard Armstrong – President, Joan Nicholson, Janet Sporka, John G Chernenko, Nancy Strope – Vice President/Fundraising, Sally Cassandra, Sharon Crabtree, Marilyn McCord, Gene Camiletti, Poke Beall,
Barb Lewis – Secretary, Paul T. Billiard, Paul “Bud” Billiard.
The design team are as follows: Howard Armstrong, Ernie Stucin, Poke Beall, Van Statheros, A.J. “Butch” Cipriani, Paul “Bud” Billiard, & Mark Roberts – Artist
The Memorial concept design was by Paul “Bud” Billiard.
Janice L. McFadden Brooke Hills Park Director is the current President.