***John Hampton, an at-large member of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, is heading the effort and hopes it can be dedicated by Veterans Day on Nov. 11. A Dover resident since 1995, Mr. Hampton has been on the commission since 2013. Originally from Baltimore, he served in a number of roles from para-rescue to weapons courier to convoy commander during Desert Storm/Shield and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He described the Middle East memorial’s sandstone base and two black tablets, possibly featuring a map and a jet, Humvee, submarine and other iconic images of the actions in the area. It might also include an etching of a Battlefield Cross — helmet, rifle and boots. The words are currently in draft form. A quote at the bottom: “When it matters most, we answer the call. All gave some, some gave all.” A prayer reads, “We pray for the covering and protection of those still in the fight, that all those uniformed service members who answered the call fulfill their duties and return home safely, for peace for all of the families of the fallen and most importantly we acknowledge their memory. Amen.” Helping with the design is 2001 Army Ranger Oscar Gonzalez, a veterans advocate who has been leading an effort to create a traumatic brain injury hospital for veterans in Delaware. Mr. Gonzalez was an Airborne Ranger serving with the Second Ranger Battalion out of Fort Lewis in Washington. “This is special to me because I lost a lot of friends,” said Mr. Gonzalez, “and my brother David is over there now on his sixth tour.” A major fundraiser for the memorial — which may cost up to $15,000 — will be engraved bricks. “We’ll fill this space pretty easily,” said Mr. Hampton, pointing to the area in the circle near the proposed area of placement. Mr. Hampton, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1990 to 2011, said the next step is approval of the design by a committee of the Vietnam veterans of Chapter 850. From there, Chapter 850 representatives will take it to the Kent County Levy Court for approval, as required in an agreement with the county for use of the park land next to the Kent County Administration Building on South Little Creek Road. “We want to accelerate the project,” said Mr. Skocik, “so we can start selling bricks. It’ll be beautiful and it’ll be in that circle of honor. “We anticipate this will be the last memorial in this circle,” Mr. Skocik said. Added Mrs. Startt, “And, I hope that will be it. I just don’t want any more wars. Period.”
***Brick orders are available at www.DelawareVVA.com, or through forms in a dispenser at the memorial site, or by calling John Hampton at (302) 241-3189. Contributions toward the Middle East Conflicts Memorial, can be made to Chapter 850, Vietnam Veterans of America, P.O. Box 1718, Dover DE 19904 with Middle East Memorial in the memo section of the check.