Shelton Memorial serves as site for Vietnam remembrance

November 4, 2018 | 3:07 am

Updated November 4, 2018 | 11:50 am

Photo by AP Imagery

The Charles E. Shelton Memorial in Owensboro’s Smothers Park is named for U.S. Air Force Col. Charles E. Shelton, who was shot down while on a mission over Laos in 1964. Col. Shelton, of Owensboro, was finally declared killed in action in 1994 and is remembered as the last official POW of the Vietnam War.

Don Nall, a retired history teacher who served on the Shelton Memorial Committee, said that the memorial is in remembrance of Shelton and all other Owensboro natives who served during Vietnam.

“Several on the committee were related to Charles Shelton and they were wanting to memorialize Charles,” Nall said. “At the same time, they were wanting to recognize all the individuals who went to Vietnam with special recognition to all of those who didn’t make it back.”

Charles E. Shelton Memorial | Photo by AP Imagery

The memorial has become a pilgrimage point for those remembering prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action. Nall says the soldiers depicted on the memorial are a composite of the types of soldiers who served in Vietnam from Owensboro.

“There are a lot of Vietnam veterans here and a lot of them go down there for a healing purpose,” he said. “It can be a very peaceful place to be. I like to think about it as Owensboro’s healing wall.”

While this riverfront monument remembers POW/MIAs, the names of the community’s fallen are included on the Daviess County War Memorials housed near the main entrance to the Owensboro Sportscenter. The fallen from WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and the ongoing actions in the Middle East are listed on these memorials that were recently updated with a sidewalk and new landscaping.

According to Cathy Mullins of Owensboro, there is a community group seeking permission to build two new memorials in the Smothers Park courtyards adjacent to the Shelton Memorial.

The group includes the leaders of veterans service organizations like the VFW, AMVETS, the American Legion, the Marine Corps League, American Gold Star Mothers and others. They met with city officials in recent years, but no official action has been taken by the city.

According to Mullins, one of the proposed memorials would be a tribute to previous wars, similar to a timeline, all the way back to the Revolutionary War.

“And in the other courtyard [we propose] a tribute monument to all of Kentucky’s fallen military since 9/11,” Mullins said. Adding that the “design includes a complementary-sized shape of the State of Kentucky listing the names of Kentucky’s fallen, including our Brandon [Mullins], along with many others from our area.”

Mullins believes the new monuments would, like the Shelton Memorial, bring visitors to the community.

“We would like this to be a destination or pilgrimage point for everyone, including the [Kentucky] Gold Star families whose loved ones will be listed on the marker.”

November 4, 2018 | 3:07 am

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