West Tisbury monument will honor new generation of veterans

Town officials are compiling the names of town residents who have served in the military since World War II.

A new monument honoring the service of recent Island veterans will be placed next to this WWII monument in West Tisbury. — Photo by Michael Cummo

In anticipation of erecting a new monument that will honor West Tisbury veterans, town officials are actively seeking the names of West Tisbury residents who have served in the military since World War II.

The new monument will be placed alongside a now-standing memorial dedicated to veterans of the town who served in World War I and World War II. It will, according to language approved at annual town meeting, “honor all Veterans from the Korean War, Vietnam War, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflicts, who served honorably, and who were residents of the town at the time of their enlistment.”

Mike Colaneri, a veteran of the Vietnam War, Jo Ann Murphy, Dukes County veteran’s agent, and Brian Athearn, a Veterans’ Graves Officer, are behind the push. Mr. Colaneri said the need for the monument arose after the World War I and World War II memorial was relocated several years ago to town hall from its original location at the triangle at Brandy Brow.

“It seemed like there was nothing being done in the town to honor more recent veterans,” Mr. Colaneri said. “While Edgartown, Chilmark, and Vineyard Haven have made their own efforts, nothing has been done in West Tisbury. So we started asking around, saw people’s interest, drafted an article, got it passed, and here we are now.”

Mr. Colaneri and his partners are currently in the midst of compiling names to be listed on the memorial. In order to qualify, an individual must have been a resident of West Tisbury during his or her time of service, and must have been honorably discharged from the military.

So far, the group has been in contact with around 30 servicemen, though their records have not yet been officially reviewed. Ms. Murphy explained that she must verify each servicemen’s record before his or her name can be formally added to the plaque.

“They will have to call me, and I will need a copy of their discharge,” she said. She recommended that prospective veterans submit a DD214 Form as documentation of their service.

Though the group expects a number of names from more recent conflicts, they predict the number of those who served in Korea and Vietnam will be limited, as the town’s population was a fraction of its current size during those two wars. There were only 347 residents in 1950, and 453 in 1970, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, a far cry from the town’s current population of 2,740, reported in the 2010 Census.

Voters approved a request of $12,000 for the construction of the monument. Selectmen will tap a bequest for special projects from Jacqueline Greene of West Tisbury for $3,894.

The group anticipates a lengthy process to compile the names of servicemen. They do not expect the monument to be unveiled until sometime next year.

“It’ll have to be sometime next year, maybe the spring,” Mr. Colaneri said. “The actual plaque will take months to complete. We’re hoping that in the spring of 2016, there will be a dedication.”

Ms. Murphy asked that veterans or their family members contact her by telephone, 508-693-6887, or via her email, vetsagent@dukescounty.org.