Host of volunteers willing to move veteran’s marker

February 14, 2013
The marker in memory of Cpl. David Hevlel that was found at the now-closed Girl Scout camp. Hevle’s last name is misspelled on the marker. - Photo courtsey of Kriss Svidro

Eight volunteers willing to transport to North Dakota a stone marker honoring the service of a Marine killed during the Vietnam War have come forward, and the family of the deceased has approved the move.

Lone Pine-area Girl Scouts sent “care packages” in the 1960s to Cpl. David E. Hevle of Yankton, S.D., and when he died in the war, they memorialized him with a marker at Camp Timberlake in West Bethlehem Township.

Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania is selling the camp, so how to perpetuate Hevle’s memorial became an issue late last year when the camp closed.

Ken Thornton, vice president of property for the scouting organization, wrote to Hevle’s survivors in care of a Yankton funeral home asking if they would like the stone to be placed at his grave.

Paul Wintz, funeral director, wrote this week in response to an inquiry from the Observer-Reporter, “I did hear back from the family and have received permission to set the marker in the Garden of Memories Cemetery. We are just happy to help in any way we can.”

After receiving a similar response, Thornton said he is evaluating the offers from those willing to transport the marker before scheduling an appropriate ceremony at Timberlake this spring “just to pay honor and respect to the veteran.”

He said he’ll be notifying Rolling Thunder Inc., which is an organization started by Vietnam War veterans. Being a veteran or motorcycle rider is not a prerequisite to join the nonprofit group, according to its website, although many members are.

Charles Rapp, former commander of American Legion Post 377 of California and a Vietnam War veteran, said, “I would personally consider it an honor to transport that stone to South Dakota at no charge to anybody.”

Rapp said he was drawn to the Hevle story because his son was born in 1967, the same year that Hevle died, and because his mother, Helen, was a longtime Girl Scout leader.

A Canonsburg businessman who preferred to remain anonymous offered to drive the marker to Yankton and have a monument maker correct the spelling of Hevle’s name.

Ed Peternel of Midway wrote in an email about the marker, “My first thoughts are, why move it to South Dakota since it is not only in remembrance of Cpl. David Hevle, but a tribute to those Girl Scouts who took the time to write him letters and send him packages?”

Peternel suggested placing the marker at an honor roll in the area to commemorate Hevle as an “adopted” son of the people of West Bethlehem Township.

If that is not a solution, Peternel pointed out that an annual motorcycle rally will take place in Sturgis, S.D., in August and that a group of veterans traveling to the rally would be honored to deliver the marker free of charge “and would surely provide a ceremony fitting of a war hero.”

Yankton is about 390 miles southeast of Sturgis.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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