Names continue to be collected for the Barton County Veterans Memorial Stone VI. A little over half of the lines have been spoken for. According to Barton County Commissions’ Assistant Diana Watson, this stone differs from the other three as the Hoisington VFW Post 7428 donated funds to cover approximately 200 lines on side one. Robert Boyle, Commander, and Tom Polzin, Past Commander of the Post, sent the engraving form to all Hoisington VFW members letting them know the lines were available. All 200 lines have been claimed.
As each side of a stone can hold more, approximately 40 lines remain on Side One for purchase. “As citizens come in to purchase an engraving on Stone IV, we offer them space on side one if they are from the Hoisington area,” Watson said.
Given the special circumstances, side one of Stone IV will be listed alphabetically. All other stones, as well as side two, are listed in the order of purchase. There are approximately 150 lines remaining on Side Two.
Since inception, this project has been completely funded with donations.
“In addition to the funds donated for the Center Stone with the military emblems, we have been fortunate to receive monies to cover the cost for those veterans or their family that cannot afford to purchase an engraving or for veterans that have no family left to memorialize them,” Watson said.
The monies have come from local businesses, including the Tribune, civic organizations and the private citizens.
The county limits these engravings to one line only to maximize the funds. Typically one only has to ask for an engraving to be covered. As with all veterans, he or she must have served (or be serving) honorably and lived in Barton County at some point.
“If anyone wishes to donate money, we can always find soldier’s names,” Watson said. “Karen Neuforth has been a huge help in providing data.”
Last week, two more names were added to the list of those to be engraved in Stone IV when the Tribune found a report in a 1949 edition of the Great Bend Tribune that was highlighted in Thursday’s “Out of the Morgue” column.
The report included photos of two Great Bend brothers, Edward and Vernon Krom, who were killed in action while they served their country during World War II. Their remains were being returned to their mother, Mrs. Leah Krom, to Great Bend by train that week.
After a preliminary search for more information about the family, the Tribune contacted the county to find out if they were listed on any of the memorials. The county confirmed that they were not listed. Then, the Tribune contacted Barton County Historical Society Museum Researcher Karen Neuforth and made an inquiry. Neuforth returned with information about the men’s service records and applications for military headstones. The information confirmed the two were indeed from Great Bend, and indicated they are buried in the Great Bend cemetery.
According to Neuforth, Cpl. (Tec 5) Vernon Lawrence Krom was born Aug. 5, 1922, and died Dec. 18, 1944. While she was unable to determine exact details, she was able to determine he was attached to a tank battalion and that date of death occurred during the period of the Battle of the Bulge.
S2C (Seaman 2nd Class) Edward Ruben Krom was born Oct. 8, 1924 and was killed Sept. 25, 1944. He was one of 58 crew members of the USS Miantonomah (CMc-5) which was lost when it was sunk by a mine off the coast of France while delivering supplies.
Watson confirmed Friday that the two would be included on Stone IV, along with another veteran discovered by the Tribune last year, Pvt. Clarence Smith, who spent his childhood in Great Bend, and designated a neighbor, Mrs. Julia Hull, as his “sole and only heir.” His mother died when he was a child, and his father died years later in a house fire just months before Smith was killed. Neuforth located a letter he sent home to Hull from France, referring to her as his mom, and he as her stepson.
“As far as the next dedication, we have to fill up the lines first,” Watson said. “We knew we’d have a harder time the further down the line we got.”
That said, there are plenty of veterans out there that deserve the honor, she added. They just have to step forward. The cost is $45.00 for 21 spaces on a line, two line max. The county is always available to help a family to get as much information engraved on that line as possible.