Westerville military memorial allows honoring personal heroes, too

Posted: May 29, 2012 at 12:15 am

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By Lucas Sullivan

The Columbus Dispatch Monday May 28, 2012 6:45 AM

Bill Megla shoves the joystick of his electric scooter forward as his cloudy blue eyes peer out from under a dark baseball cap with the letters POW on the front.

There are 3,000 American flags to the left and right of Megla, 86, but all he focuses on is the Freedom Wall, a World War II memorial near the southwest corner of County Line Road and Cleveland Avenue in Westerville.

The wall has 530 gold stars, each of them representing many service members who died or went missing in WWII. It is part of Westervilles Field of Heroes, a Memorial Day tradition where full-size American flags can be dedicated to personal heroes as well as to those who served in the military.

I saw a lot of them get killed, Megla said as he turned away from the WWII wall. I lost my best friend during the war. He took a mortar round, and that was it.

Megla was a first scout in the Armys 9th Infantry Division in 1943. He joined as a second scout, he said, but was promoted when the first scout was severely injured. His duties were straightforward: Stay 100 to 200 yards in front of the line and warn of danger.He was captured by German soldiers during a firefight in Blaimont, Belgium, in 1944 and spent eight months as a prisoner of war before being released. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his performance during combat and for injuries he suffered as a prisoner.

Yesterday in Westerville, the former owner of a replacement-window shop couldnt travel 10 yards without someone stopping him and thanking him for his service.

Thats what is so great about this place the stories, said Walter Lundstrom of Westerville, who dedicated flags to his heroes: his wife, Gail; his mother, Anna; and his late father, Olov. Obviously, losing your life or limbs for your country is another level of sacrifice. ... There are also heroes still in our own lives that we can honor.

In its fourth year, the Field of Heroes is the idea of Larry Jenkins, a member of the Westerville Rotary Club. About 1,000 of the 3,000 flags will be dedicated to someones hero, he said, and the rest serve as a memorial to all those who died during combat.

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Westerville military memorial allows honoring personal heroes, too

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May 29th, 2012 at 12:15 am