POINT PLEASANT — A project is underway to honor Mason County veterans with a memorial adjacent to the Bridge of Honor, also known as the Pomeroy-Mason Bridge. The memorial would be located on the West Virginia side of the structure and recognize those who have honorably served in one of the six branches of the armed forces of the United States from World War I though present day.
Steve Halstead, president of the Mason County Veterans Memorial endeavor, spoke during the Mason County Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday. He asked for community support for their efforts, and said their vision is “to provide our community with a living, lasting memorial, worthy of reverence, remembrance, and hope to all who visit.”
Halstead began working on the memorial in October 2021 and formed an organization that includes officers and trustees, and has received support from multiple organizations in West Virginia including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Marine Corps League, and the Hershel “Woody” Williams Scholarship Foundation Marine Corps League. The Marine Corps League/Meigs, Gallia, Mason County Detachment #1180 and the Military Order of the Purple Heart have also given their endorsement for the project.
Halstead said the committee has been collaborating with Mason City Council and have been in touch with the state government in West Virginia to help secure the location of the park.
The memorial would be constructed in two phases, the first would honor the seven Mason County Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, include the names of the veterans lost in battle from World War 1 to the present, names of POW-MIA, and a plaque with the six branches of service, with a United States flag flying prominently within the memorial grounds.
The site would also include bronze statues, and Halstead said the plan is to dedicate the first statue in the park to Jimmy Stewart, an Army veteran born in West Columbia, W.Va. Stewart graduated from Middleport High School in Meigs County, Ohio, and became a staff sergeant and member of the U.S. Army’s Company B, Second Battalion, First Cavalry Division. He died in battle during the Vietnam War.
“I’ve actually talked to guys that were on the battlefield that said that if it hadn’t been for Jimmy Stewart, they wouldn’t be here today,” Halstead said.
As previously reported by Ohio Valley Publishing, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (CMOHS) website, Stewart fought alone for more than four hours and endured three attacks, as his fellow soldiers lay wounded after a surprise attack. He was able to hold off the enemy until reinforcements arrived and the wounded could be recovered and evacuated.
“Stewart’s indomitable courage, in the face of overwhelming odds, stands as a tribute to himself and an inspiration to all men of his unit. His actions were in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and the Armed Forces of his country,” said Stewart’s Medal of Honor citation from West Virginia State Senator Oshel Craigo, according to the CMOHS.
Stewart received a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor for the bravery he exhibited that saved his fellow soldiers on August 24, 1967.
Halstead said there is a strong connection between Meigs and Mason County, with Steward as an example, and that there are many others whose stories cross the river between the two counties.
He said that while the memorial will be to honor Mason County veterans, there are links to these men and women who have served throughout the state of West Virginia and the nation, so this will be a national effort.
Other members of the project were introduced, including Bob Wing, who encouraged everyone to become involved with the memorial by donating.
“Everyone who looks at this can say “I have a piece in this. Everybody can be a part of this, no matter how large or small the donation. These veterans deserve a memorial considering how much they have sacrificed.”
The membership associated with this memorial are all volunteers, and all donations will go solely to the construction of the Mason County Veterans memorial. For more information or to donate, contact Steve Halstead at 304-895-3691, visit their Facebook page: Mason County WV Veterans memorial.
Lunch was served in the pavilion overlooking the Ohio River by Tudors of Point Pleasant. The Mason County Chamber of Commerce encouraged attendance at their annual Golf Tournament, and at their Chamber Dinner on June 28. Information to register for both events can be found on their Facebook page: Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce.