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Mountain Home Magazine

In Freedom's Name

Jun 04, 2014 03:01PM

Robert B. Logue wasn’t supposed to be on the USS Wahoo.

After serving five years aboard a submarine, Logue, a Williamsport native, had been assigned to a sub tender at Pearl Harbor. The Navy released him from his duty for a one- patrol-only stint on the Wahoo in part because, as a specialist on the then-new electric torpedo, Logue possessed an expertise which made him a valuable crewman to have aboard.

Logue and seventy-nine other sailors never returned from that patrol. After becoming the target of a large-scale attack by Japanese ships and aircraft, the USS Wahoo sank in the Sea of Japan in October, 1943. There were no survivors.

A monument created to honor Logue’s service to his country, as well as the service of two other Lycoming County residents who perished on submarines during World War II, was dedicated in 1992, and is displayed on a stretch of ground on the corner of West Fourth Street and Wahoo Drive in Williamsport. Since then, monuments dedicated to honor all county military veterans who sacrificed their lives in defense of America’s freedom—and the freedom of others around the world—have joined it.

The names of county residents who perished in World War I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are chiseled into stone monuments standing on the site. Another marker memorializes local soldiers who died in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Next to it stands the monolithic black marble Global Conflicts for Peace and Freedom monument, eight feet high and fourteen feet long. A decommissioned M60-A3 Army tank parked on the grounds honors past and present county residents who served in the armed forces, as well as those who will serve in future years.

Collectively, the monuments form what is now Lycoming County Veterans Memorial Park.

The first monument, which honors Logue, David K. Sloan, Jr., and Edward J. Szendrey, features a torpedo (donated by the U.S. Navy to the residents of Lycoming County), a 3,500-pound ship’s propeller (typical of those used to propel U.S. subs during WWII), and an anchor.

After the land that housed the initial monument was deeded to the City of Williamsport in 1996, the Veterans Memorial Park Commission was formed to oversee the facility. Not long afterward, another group, the Lycoming County Veterans Council, began looking for a place to commemorate the World War II anniversary.

“We considered several sites,” said Charles Smith, a Marine Corps veteran and a member of the Veterans Council. “Then we approached the city about doing something near the monument on West Fourth Street, and they gave us the okay.”

Since then, the Veterans Council has taken on the planning and fundraising duties for the park. According to Smith, the majority of the funds collected come from individual donations.

Future plans for the site include the construction of a walkway designed to encourage visitors to reflect on the contributions to freedom made by all Lycoming County residents, including those who served during the Revolutionary War.

This year, a Memorial Day service will be held at the park on Saturday, May 24, beginning at 2 p.m. Francis L. “Fran” Hendricks, president of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and a retired Army brigadier general, will be the featured speaker.