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Woodlands veterans support group seeks names for memorial tiles

May 24, 2019

Local veterans in The Woodlands are issuing a call to anyone who knows or is related to a veteran in an effort to fill a memorial with tiles of remembrance for those who served in the armed forces.

Bill Wingo, treasurer for The Way Home Project, said the effort to create an all-encompassing memorial to Texas veterans from all branches of the military — the Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force and the Merchant Marines — began in 2004 when members of The Greater Woodlands Public Art Foundation began a fund-raising drive for the project. That effort led to the unveiling of the current veterans memorial in Town Green Park.

Now, Wingo said, the group wants to adorn the monument with tiles bearing the names of those who have served.

“It was conceived in 2004 at a meeting at the American Legion. I got involved in 2007 after the funeral of Cory Kosters. When I came back (from the funeral), I started the project again,” Wingo explained. “The (new memorial) will be made of tiles in memory of veterans, whether they were killed in action, POWs, missing in action. All we are doing is completing the project with the tiles.”

In an effort to do that, Wingo and others involved in the project are asking anyone who knows a veteran to submit that person’s name and details of service to project coordinators to honor all veterans from the region and The Woodlands.

“The problem is, most veterans will not submit their own names, for whatever reason — survivor guilt or not thinking their service was important,” he said. “It often takes a loved one to make it happen. I have seen so many tears shed when a veteran sees their name on a tile.”

According to a press release about the effort, the monument in Town Green Park, named “The Way Home,” was first dedicated on Memorial Day, 2015, and was created, “In recognition of all those who have served our country, some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Everett Ison, president of the Greater Woodlands Public Art Foundation.

“We must never forget that their service allows us to live safely and freely in the United States,” Ison stated in the release.

According the press release, the monument was paid for with only donations from area companies and organizations. More than 1,000 memorial tiles were sold to anyone who wanted to honor a veteran, and the land for the monument was donated by The Woodlands Township. On top of the base of the monument are depictions of “two young men who were residents of The Woodlands area — Army Cpl. Cory C. Kosters, who was killed in Iraq on March 5, 2007, and Army Cpl. Zach R. Endsley, who lost was killed in Afghanistan on June 23, 2007,” the release stated.

“Today we launched a website at: http://www.thewayhomeproject.com/ so people everywhere can learn about Zach and Cory, and pay tribute to our veterans,” Wingo stated in a press release. “The web site has detailed information on these heroes along with photos and videos. The site also has an order form for anyone who would like to purchase memorial tiles, or sponsors who would like to help with the costs associated with maintaining the memorial.”

The effort to honor all veterans in The Woodlands, and resulting support from so many in the community is a welcome feeling, Wingo admitted.

“When we did the 2015 dedication, we expected 500 people and we got 5,000. This is very important to the community and the community has shown it,” he said. “I am proud to be a member of this community and know it supports veterans.”

jeff.forward@chron.com

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