Display will be at Marion City Library
It was a war when there were few heroes of the time.
It was a war most wanted to forget.
There were no parades, no banners, no cheers when most soldiers returned home.
Some gave their lives, many their youth to the Vietnam War with little fanfare or acknowledgment.
Sometimes called the Vietnam Conflict, more than 58,000 Americans lost their lives. Another 304,000 were wounded.
The Vietnam War was the longest military conflict in U.S. history with U.S. troops fighting from 1959 to 1975.
“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War,” Richard M. Nixon said in 1985. “It was misreported then and it is misremembered now.”
So, how are those Kansas Vietnam veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice being remembered?
It started as a small project to remember fallen Kansas soldiers.
Bill Foreman and friend, Steve Breeding, started the project about 10 years ago in Beloit. Breeding had a cousin from Marshall County who was listed MIA (Missing In Action). Breeding believed it would be an appropriate remembrance for his cousin and other soldiers from Marshall County to compile information about the soldiers so their lives would not be forgotten.
A small display was shown at the Marshall County Fair. Before long, people were approaching Foreman and Breeding, asking if their family members could be included.
Meanwhile Trevor Foreman, the son of Bill Foreman, was living in Newton and wanted to be a part of the project as a way to connect with his father and history.
“I have always been a history buff,” Foreman said. “I enjoyed hearing stories about Vietnam.”
Foreman said he had relatives who fought in other wars and it was of interest to him.
So, the younger Foreman put together a website, appropriately named “Faces on the Wall,” with information about those Kansas servicemen who were killed in action during the Vietnam War.
“What started out as five guys listed from Marshall County now is a listing of more than 50 servicemen,” Foreman said.
Personal money and donations have kept the project alive with soldiers’ pictures and information posted on a website and the display being shown around the state.
“In the beginning, Dad and Steve talked with relatives of the servicemen and letters are sent each year, asking the families for permission to continue to post and display information about their loved ones,” Trevor Foreman said.
“It’s taken on a life of its own,” Foreman said, emphasizing the need to never forget those who gave their lives in the Vietnam War.
The display will be at Marion City Library beginning Monday through Nov. 21. Trevor Foreman will give a presentation at 7 p.m. Monday.
Two Marion County men are listed on the “Faces on the Wall” display.
U.S. Army National Guard Cpl. Robert Lee Boese of rural Marion was 22 years old when he was killed in action.
He was an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division and began his tour March 5, 1969. He died May 23, 1969.
In the June 5, 1969 issue of the Marion County Record, it was reported that Boese first had been reported missing in action since May 23. His body then was found Memorial Day and the U.S. Army declared him dead since May 23.
At the time of his death, he was on a combat operations when the unit he was with encountered hostile forces.
He was stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., prior going to overseas Feb. 25, 1969.
He was survived by his wife, Susan; his parents, Ezra and Anna Boese; a brother, Larry Boese; a sister Vickie Boese; and grandmother, Mrs. David (Anna) Helmer Sr.
Anna Boese still lives in Marion and Vickie (Boese) Hajek lives in Lost Springs.
U.S. Marine Corps PFC Wesley M. Sidener of Burns was 21 years old when he died, Nov. 22, 1969.
His tour began Aug. 5, 1969, as an infantry rifleman.
Sidener was a Chase County High School graduate where he was an athlete, lettering in football, basketball, and track.
No information was found in the Marion County Record regarding Sidener’s death but at www.facesonthewall.com, there is information about the Combined Action Program (CAP) of which Sidener was a part while in the Marines.
Here is an excerpt from the information that was given to Sidener’s parents.
The CAP was conceived and operated by the U.S. Marine Corps from 1965 to 1971. In its six-year history, the program rarely was known outside of its own members and a few Marines fortunate enough to have had contact.
At the height of the CAP, there were 114 units of approximately 5,000 Marines. Less than one-half survived. Of the survivors, it was estimated that 70 percent were wounded once, 40 percent were wounded twice, and approximately 65 percent received decoration for heroism.
Sidener’s mother, Evelyn Sidener, resides at Burns.