Memorial park will get Vietnam plaque

ALPENA – The Alpena County Veterans Council got the go-ahead from Alpena Municipal Council to install a plaque memorializing the county’s Vietnam War casualties.

The veterans council will place a plaque featuring the names of 15 men who died or went missing in the war at a memorial park at the intersection of Washington and Second avenues, City Engineer Rich Sullenger said. Larry Marchlewski Sr., Veterans of Foreign Wars District 13 commander, and Dan Cox, Alpena Veterans Affairs director, are working together to bring the memorial to the park.

Marchlewski’s request to place a stone with the plaque on it at the park was unanimously approved by council at its March 18 meeting, Sullenger said.

“Any time we can honor our veterans by supporting these kinds of activites, we do that,” he said.

Cox and Marchlewski also are getting help from Martin Rifenbark, owner of A.B. Crow Memorials in Alpena. He’s donating a piece of granite, setting the plaque on the stone and installing it at the park, he said.

While Rifenbark never served in the Armed Forces, he has family members who have, he said. This includes his son, a Marine who has served in the Middle East. Helping veterans is his way of saying thanks for defending the country.

“Whenever we get a chance to give (veterans) a boost, we appreciate what they’ve done, so it seems like the least we can do to give them a hand,” he said.

The plaque was given to the county in 1995 by The Moving Wall, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, Marchlewski said. It eventually went on display in the Besser Museum before it was given to the veterans council.

Among the 15 names on the plaque, three are men who went missing in action, Marchlewski said. All three are pilots, two from the Navy and one from the Army.

The new memorial will be dedicated on Memorial Day at 1 p.m., Marchlewski said. It’ll be placed near a marker already at the memorial park, which reads, “In memory of those who served and those who still serve.” He’ll announce more Memorial Day events in the weeks to come.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at