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By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

West Valley vets honored in Grand Ronde

Thirty-one names, including those of two World War I veterans, were added this year. They were read as part of the ceremony.

Steve Bobb Sr., chair of the Veterans Special Events Board, said the difficulty with World War I veterans lies in obtaining paperwork verifying their status.

He said that difficulty was overcome in the case of Army veterans Jacob Schryvers and Abraham Tom.

Members of Tom’s family, including his son, attended the ceremony. They called it an honor that the Grand Ronde tribal grounds features a prominent memorial and annual commemorative event.

Bobb, a former Grand Ronde tribal councilor, designed the memorial. It was dedicated in 2003.

For anyone who has never visited the site, it features a woman and man dressed in Native American clothing. They are standing next to each other, reaching toward the sky.

Four granite pillars represent the four main branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Inscribed on the pillars are the names of veterans from Grand Ronde, Sheridan and Willamina.

The memorial was dedicated in 2003. The ceremony attracts a large crowd every year, and the memorial is visited by many annually.

This year’s honorees:

- Air Force: Anthony E. Foster, Dan N. Ham, Harlan W. Houston and Robert Voytilla. Presented by Senior Veterans Queen Savannah Ingram and Junior Veterans Queen Amelia Mooney.

- Army: Larry R. Baker, Eric F. Boyce, Ray Brown, Darrell R. Burres, Bruce J. Carl, Vernon A. Edwards, William J. Langley (tribal member), Matthew McCandless, Jacob J. Schryvers (World War I), Lee Roy Smith Jr.,  Peter V. Sulkey (tribal member), Abraham Tom (tribal member, World War I) and Richard D. Werst. Presented by Raymond Petite.

- Coast Guard: Richard C. Houston. Presented by Al Miller.

- Marine Corps: Timothy J. Giddings. Presented by Ernie Keener.

- Navy: Jerry W. Babcock, Michael B. Carl, William N. Carl, Anthony F. Eisele, Gerald L. Eisele, Emil D. Evans, Cal Edward Landon, Allen A. Langley (tribal member), Andrew S. Schryvers, George S. Spelts, Ronald C. Ksionsk and Janos Sandor Vamos. Presented by Al Miller.

The additions bring the total number of names inscribed on the pillars to 2,314, and Ksionsk said he is proud to be one of them.

Living in Wisconsin, he enlisted in the Navy out of high school. His father served in World War II and he felt moved to serve his country as well as he had decided not to go to college.

Ksionsk served four years on active duty, posted on the USS Dennis J. Buckley, followed by 5 1/2 years of reserve duty.

He moved to Oregon from California in 1987. As someone who has fished and hunted all his life, he felt Oregon was the perfect spot to relocate.

Ksionsk worked on a tree farm, hauled rock and worked in the woods before landing a custodial job with the Willamina School District in the fall of 1990. He worked 20 1/2 years for the district before retiring.

He said it “feels great” to know his name is inscribed on the Navy pillar.

“I’m proud to be a veteran,” he said.

With his DD Form 214 discharge papers in hand, Ksionsk visited with several tribal members about being included. He eventually got the good news from Bobb.

“It happened,” he said. “This is great.”

Memorial Day festivities on the tribal grounds began with an 8 a.m. service at the tribal cemetery. A meal of stew was served at noon in the community center.

Bobb, master of ceremonies for the observance, delivered the invocation. The Grand Ronde Drummers performed a song and tribal member Jolanda Catabay sang the national anthem.

Speakers included Jerry Wilson, Yamhill County’s veterans services administrator, and Cameron Smith, Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs director.

“I used to just think of Memorial Day as a day off from school or work,” said Tribal Councilor Chris Mercier.

He said serving on the council and taking part in annual veterans memorial observances had given him a greater appreciation for the individuals the memorial honors.

“My heart goes out to you,” he told veterans in attendance.

The observance wrapped up with Grand Ronde Royalty performing “The Lord’s Prayer,” the Grand Ronde Honor Guard posting the colors, Bud Abbott reading the poem “Remember Me, America,” Tribal Land and Culture Department Manager Jan Looking Wolf Reibach playing “Taps” and “Amazing Grace” on the flute and Bob Thornton playing “Taps” on the trumpet.


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