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All Present and Accounted For

Under a bright and chilly sky Friday morning, a sandblaster noisily did its work on black granite slabs, etching names onto the Oregon Fallen War Heroes Memorial in Central Point.

Weeks after a plea went out for funding, Sam Bronleewe, owner of Oregon Memorials of Hillsboro, donned a head covering and patiently added the names — just as coordinators had hoped, in time for Veterans Day ceremonies next week.

Central Point resident Marty Terrell, who co-founded the memorial with state Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, said it was important to add the names before Veterans Day.

Dedicated in 2008, the quarter-acre memorial in Central Point has eight individual monuments honoring fallen Oregon members of each branch of the military service and including a monument for the Order of the Purple Heart.

Since the memorial was dedicated, 29 more Oregon military members have been killed in action.

Terrell and Richardson went public last month with a plea for funds to add the 29 names missing from the memorial.

Richardson said a trio of anonymous donors and other community efforts, including a pair of concerts by Elvis tribute artist Clint Ingbretson, of Medford, brought in more than $3,000.

While each name was expected to cost about $100, Richardson said, actual cost would factor out to about $65 per name, thanks to a contribution from Oregon Memorials.

"The engraver started off at $100 a name and reconsidered the cause and decided to cut back to as lean as he could get away with," said Richardson.

"We even have some extra money for, unfortunately, the next time we have to do this — to add more names."

Richardson said while he was saddened to think of the lives lost, he was grateful to see the names added before ceremonies were held on the site next week.

"The main goal was to get it done before November 11," he said.

Terrell noted, "People were very generous. They just came out of the woodwork almost as soon as we said there was a need. This valley really loves their vets."

Bronleewe said the more than 5,800 names on the monument are engraved in such a small font size that he had to experiment with various processes to determine the best method for adding the 29 names "on site." The previous names were put on the granite slabs before they were erected.

"Of course when these slabs were originally made on a laser machine, we didn't want to add more names in the future if we didn't have to," he said. "But it's really important that these names be recognized."

Bronleewe, who has traveled around the state etching names into stone for various types of memorials, said the Central Point site was one of a kind.

"We've been all over and this is the only memorial that I know of that recognizes all service branches covering all the wars," he said.

"It's really something."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Sam Bronleewe inscribes names onto the Oregon Fallen War Heroes Memorial Friday morning at Don Jones Memorial Park in Central Point. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore