Camp’s marker honoring veteran an unsolved mystery

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Girl Scouts who spent time at the now-closed Camp Timberlake in West Bethlehem Township undoubtedly have memories of campfires, but one burning question remains: Why was a marker placed there in memory of a Vietnam War veteran who’s buried in South Dakota?


Kriss Svidro of Washington had visited Timberlake for years, but she had never seen the stone bearing the name of David Eugene Hevle until earlier this year.


“To be honest, I’ve been going there with my daughter since the late 1980s,” Svidro said. “I don’t remember having seen it before this summer. I don’t know why it suddenly just appeared to me. It’s been there a while. I have no idea who he is or when the monument was installed. Perhaps he had a grandparent in the area.


“It’s a nice place to put a memorial.”


When Svidro noticed the granite stone, it had a Vietnam War flag holder next to it. She carries American flags in the trunk of her car, a habit she said she learned from her parents, so she placed one in the holder.


Info from The Wall-USA, a website that features a searchable database, which lists the spelling of the deceased veteran’s name as “Hevle” not “Hevel” as is inscribed on the Timberlake marker, notes he was a Marine Corps corporal who served for four years until April 8, 1967.


According to the “Fallen Sons of South Dakota during the Vietnam War” website, Hevle was on patrol when his amphibian tractor hit a mine and exploded near Chu Lai, South Vietnam.


The personal comments linked to Hevle’s entry do not shed any light on why Hevle was memorialized by a plaque and stone at the camp in Washington County, but the “Fallen Sons of South Dakota” website entry, written by two middle school students in 2006, notes that he earned 13 medals, including two Purple Hearts, and that the Disabled American Veterans chapter in Yankton is known as the Hevle-Heimes No. 17 in honor of the first two local men killed in Vietnam.


Svidro checked with scouts in Mt. Lebanon because, she said, it was Mt. Lebanon Girl Scouts who established a camp at Timberlake, south of Beallsville.


“We have not found anything else out,” she said.


Girl Scouts participated in a camp-closing ceremony, final campfire at Timberlake and a ritual known as a “Scout’s Own,” a time for reflection, on Oct. 13, before the Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania closed the camp. The organization is selling the 32-acre property along Ten Mile Creek through the Howard Hanna agency.


According to Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania Public Relations Manager Lisa Shade, the property, excluding coal rights, was donated in 1960 by the J.H. Hillman & Sons Co. of Pittsburgh to the Girl Scouts of Allegheny County. No value of the property is included on the deed.


The Pryor family donated nearly an acre and a half, valued at $7,385, in 1995.


The lodge, Shade said, was constructed in 1962. The property had been used as a day camp, but it apparently it wasn’t enticing enough as a destination.


“We surveyed and met with girls, parents, and volunteers to explore what they expect from camp,” said Angie Stengel, chief operations officer for Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania in an email.


“Through this assessment, we learned Camp Timberlake didn’t provide all the amenities that they viewed as important. We maintain 10 camps throughout our council which feature the activities girls want most, including swimming, horseback riding, and high-adventure activities.”


The price of the property at 2334 Beallsville Road, Marianna, which is being marketed as appropriate for business opportunities or as commercial or industrial land, is $399,000.


For more information about David Hevle, visit http://www.sdvietnamwarmemorial.com/hevledavid.htm


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