By Jennie Acklin
Bill O’Brien, Third Vice-Commander of the Concord American Legion Post 431, and a Vietnam War veteran will be presenting a memorial plaque at the Ellicottville American Legion on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m.
He has been working on this project for several months, researching the names and stories of servicemen who died in service during World War II, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War. A total of 16 names are on the memorial plaque, one of which was a classmate of O’Brien’s – and the plaque is donated in his memory – Orrie Earl Macomb Jr.
“I want these veterans to be remembered for more than a name – I want to tell their story,” said O’Brien.
The plaque includes the names, service branch, service years and final resting place of local Ellicottville and Great Valley service members who died in battle.
His research for the names was done at the Ellicottville Memorial Library, with help from Laura Flannigan, for which he is most grateful. Utilizing their computers, he spent hours going through old newspapers, and online websites including Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com.
O’Brien grew up in Ellicottville, and has strong family ties to this area. The family farm was at the current location of the Ilex Inn, encompassing over 350 acres.
He enlisted April 26, 1965 and served in the Vietnam War as an Army engineer for three years, stationed at West Point.
O’Brien presented a plaque to the Concord American Legion Post 431 in February of 2017, honoring 27 service members from the Springville and Concord, NY area. After completing that project, he felt the need to honor his hometown veterans as well.
The following names listed on the plaque are as follows:
World War II
Daniel W. Lowry, Cadet, US Army Air Corps
Lawrence C. Zefers, CPL, US Army
Irvin T. Ebert, PFC, US Army
Henry D. Smith, 2nd LT, USAAF
Alton G. Eastman, TM2, US Navy
Harold E. Shadbolt, CPL, USSAF
Joseph M. O’Connor, PFC, US Army
Charles D. Lum, S/SGT. US Army
William N. Burton, CPL, US Army
Douglas D. Dineen, SGT, USSAF
Robert J. Quinn, S/SGT, US Army
Egbert L. Barnhard, SGT, USSAF
William L. Gayhart, PCF, USMC
Orrie E. Macomb Jr., CPL, USMC
Arnold L. Robbins, S/SGT, US Army
Gregg A. Smith, PFC, USMC
Members of the Ellicottville and Great Valley communities, and all others interested, are welcome to attend the presentation at the Ellicottville American Legion Post 659, 500 Maples Road, Ellicottville, NY on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m..