(DAVID B. TENNEY, VIETNAM VETERAN)
In 1986 the POW/MIA Program was pushed out by myself, my wife and two sons. I obtained a POW/MIA flag and had the base fly it for POW/MIA Recognition Day. It was that same year that my family and I set up a small booth handing out POW/MIA information.
Over the next four years we set up a booth each year on Recognition Day selling various POW/MIA memorabilia; all funds we raised were donated to the National League of Families. It was in 1989 that we started a small POW/MIA Committee.
In 1990 the committee decided that we would try to build a memorial at RAF Mildenhall. We wanted this memorial to be a memorial built by the people of and around RAF Mildenhall; not one built by the base. Thus, our first big problem; to obtain a piece of land from the base. We wanted a piece of land that both people from the base and those from off base could get to; a site was picked out. But, the base wanted us to use a piece of land in front of the Officers Club. After several meetings we were given the site we had picked chosen. We then held a contest (with a prize of $100.00) to come up with a design. The initial idea (an eagle sitting on a rock), forwarded by MSgt Richard Baker was selected from a pool of entries. (MSgt Baker donated the prize money to the memorial fund.) The committee took this idea and approached the off-base Mildenhall Monumentals Co. They in turn set up a meeting between us and a local stonemason, Ms Charlie Hull. With the help of these folks we came up with the design of the memorial as it stands now. (The initial memorial (with flag pole) stood without any flower beds or benches.)
We only had about $250.00 in the memorial fund and the EST cost was set at $8,000.00. So, it was all hands to the pumps to raise the required funds. We did about everything you can think of to raise the funds. We had bake sales, bowlathons, draws, etc. Support came in from far and near. However, without the support of these events by the people on/off base, we would never have raised the required funds.
On National Recognition Day, in Sep 1991, we had the ground breaking for the memorial. Our aim was to have the memorial completed for Veterans Day that same year; in a months time. This is where the Monumentals folks and our stonemason came into play. They all fell in love with the project. Once they knew all the facts of what the
memorial was about and saw how much it meant to us, they couldn't do enough for us. They put in long hours in all type of weather to ensure that all would be completed on time. They became "family".
On 8 Nov 1991, Col (Ret) John Waltman, a former POW of Vietnam unveiled and dedicated the memorial. What a day to remember. We had a great turn out for the day. The base paper along with the local press and the Armed Forces TV gave us outstanding coverage. The design was well received by all. Everyone could not believe how much had been accomplished in such a short period of time.
During Mar 1992, we arranged for the two large flower beds (around the memorial) to be put in. All necessary funds were raised and the beds were in for Recognition Day 1992. We also added three spot lights at this time.
Late 1993, early 1994 we started making plans to make some additions to the memorial. The Mildenhall Monumentals folks were contacted once again. It was decided that two benches, with a flower bed behind each, along with a new dedication plaque would be added. These additions were completed in Aug 1995.
I believe the dedication plaque says it all:
DEDICATED 8 NOV 1991
FUNDED AND BUILT
David can be reached via email at: TENNEYD@100arw.mildenhall.af.mil