Vietnam veterans park revitalized by boy scout

R.I.G.H.T. Committee assists Eagle-candidate Scout

AKRON, Ohio - Joe Rebuck's mother Julie had been to a volunteering event when she heard of what Mike Herhold's group, Residents Improving Goodyear Heights Together (R.I.G.H.T.) does for Akron's local communities.

One of their plans was to bring back to its original glory a Goodyear Heights park situated between three streets: Watson, Malasia and Wingfoot Way.

The park had been designated as early as 1972 to honor some of the Vietnam War's dead who had resided in Summit county.

"I told Joe's mom that our next project that we're excited about, but we've sort of got to get someone else involved is this Vietnam memorial park. I said we would secure the funds. The funds were secured by a community grant from the City of Akron," said Herhold. "But, we needed somebody to carry it out."

Joe Rebuck said his mom came home pretty excited.

"She told me what the project was and I thought that's cool. It might just work," said Joe Rebuck.

Taking charge immediately, Joe gathered fellow Boy Scouts of America volunteers to help him construct his plans and designs which included three benches surrounding a flag pole in the center of the park.

Amazingly, a flag pole hadn't survived, if there ever was one, since the park's designation as a memorial park for the area's lost Vietnam veterans.

According to a 1987 Akron Beacon Journal report, a returning veteran, Charlie Maerean, had undertaken a personal duty to work on the park following his Akron arrival home safely from his 1970-71 Vietnam War service.

R.I.G.H.T. officials are seeking any information on where Maerean might be, his family, or friends involved in the original 1970s project.

Maerean's intent, according to the report, was to eventually honor all 150 Summit county lives lost in the war. He started by placing stone markers at the triangular-shaped park's three corners. They honored 19 veterans with their engraved names on metal plaques attached to the top of each stone.

A total of 10 stones are still exposed above the ground's grassy park. Some of the plaques have not survived, some struck by 40 years of lawnmower passes nearby. Blank stones sit weathered, their lost veteran-honoring names now unknown. Rebuck said he had to do this project, and not just for his scouting advancement.

"It feels good to do something like this," said Joe Rebuck.

Setting up a plan, Joe and his crews built his designed benches, planted rose bushes requested by the R.I.G.H.T. Committee behind each set of stone markers, and erected a telescoping flag pole with a solar-powered light on the 24-hour-waving flag.

When told that a teenager had done the work, local homeowner Jeff Hart was duly impressed.

"A lot of kids that age are lazy and don't good values, or integrity, and lack character. And to see somebody like a boy scout that goes out and actually does things to help other people, help the community, beautify the area, and honor war veterans is a wonderful thing," said Hart.

For more information on the R.I.G.H.T. Committee click here  or call 330-784-6623


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