SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The evening before Tarryl Hill was due to depart for combat operations in Iraq, he was far too nervous to eat dinner at a restaurant with his grandparents, George and Sue Hill.
Later that night, at their Shelby Township home, the couple, who had raised Tarryl as their son since infancy, received a call from the 19-year-old at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
“We went back out (to Selfridge) and sat with him and talked with him,” George Hill recalled. Tarryl Hill told them that there was a chance he may not come back from Iraq, and if he didn’t, he wanted them to know that he loved them.
On Feb. 7, 2007, Tarryl Hill, at the age of 19, was killed when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.
“By them signing up, they knew that their life was in danger, so they were willing to give their life for their country,” George Hill said. “He chose to serve his country and to die for his country.”
At 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, outside the Shelby Township hall, the township will mark its annual remembrance of fallen military personnel with the unveiling of the site’s newest addition, a Global War on Terror memorial bearing the names of six locals who died as a result of their military service in the Global War on Terror.
The names of Shelby Township service members who fell in Iraq — including Tarryl Hill, Mark Barbret and Christopher Kube — will be removed from their current location on the township’s veterans memorial and be placed on the new memorial. Both memorials stand on the Shelby Township municipal grounds at 52700 Van Dyke Ave., south of 24 Mile, in Shelby Township.
The new memorial also will include the names of U.S. Army soldiers Kyle B. McClain and Todd Lambka, who were both killed in action last year in Afghanistan, as well as Alex Knapp, who died of a cardiac event in 2010 following his return from Iraq, where he lost both legs to an improvised explosive device in 2008.
Shelby Township Veterans Events Coordinator Phil Randazzo said the veterans memorial lists the fallen service members by war, but since there was no space on the memorial to fit in a new “Afghanistan” header, a new memorial was needed.
Randazzo compared the grouping of the Iraq and Afghanistan service members to the grouping of soldiers who fought in the European and Pacific theaters of World War II.
“In World War II, our boys died in the Philippine islands, they were dying over in France, but (they) went under one header: World War II,” he added.
The Global War on Terror memorial is a half-size replica of Macomb County’s 10-foot Heart of America war memorial in Mount Clemens. It is a column in the shape of a pentagon and features twin towers to honor the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Randazzo, a Vietnam War veteran, said both memorials will remain there to perpetually honor the service personnel who were killed in action.
The May 19 ceremony will feature the Lakeside Assembly of God choir singing patriotic songs and an invocation from Lakeside’s Pastor Phil Krist, he said.
The new memorial will be placed at the former site of a memorial bench for Knapp. The bench, in turn, will be moved to Macomb Township, where Knapp was a resident at the time of his passing.
Macomb Township Clerk Michael Koehs said the township Board of Trustees first must vote to accept the bench, and if accepted, it would be placed in the Veterans Memorial in front of the township hall at 25 Mile and Broughton roads.
“Alex was a resident here,” Koehs added. “It certainly means a lot to us. That’s one of the reasons we worked so hard with the (Macomb Township) Community Foundation to build that memorial. We’d certainly like to remember all of the veterans — the ones that are still with us and the ones that have gone before us.”
Two guests — Eun Yi Jeong, from the Korean Consulate General in Chicago, and John Shim, an Eastern Michigan University Korean language professor — paid a visit on May 3 to the Shelby veterans memorial, where they paid respects to the Shelby Township residents who lost their lives while fighting in the Korean War: Benjamin C. DeForest, John R. DeForest, Vern A. Morgan and Richard C. Zawlocki.
Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said in a statement that the May 3 visit of the two guests shows why Randazzo’s work with the memorials is so important.
“Not only does the memorial provide the township with a first-class site to receive dignitaries, but, more importantly, it provides our fallen military heroes with a dignified and solemn home, where all of us who owe them our freedom can honor them,” Stathakis said.
Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot, who also attended the visit to the memorial, said the two guests took a moment of silence at the memorial. At one point, Jeong, president of the Korean Education Center, walked up to the monument to touch the names of the Korean War personnel inscribed on it.
“They were very appreciative and very sensitive to the fact that our American soldiers died for their freedoms,” Grot said.
The visit followed the taping of a 30-minute local TV segment at the Shelby TV studio. The segment ran during “News Point,” a one-hour Korean language news program that runs on government access channels throughout metro Detroit, but it can still be viewed online at www.mktimes.com.
David Shin, reporter and founder of The Michigan Korean Times, an online Korean language news site, coordinated the visit.
Shin encouraged the local Korean population to turn out for the May 19 memorial service. Without the sacrifices of thousands of young American military personnel, South Korea could well be a communist country, he said.
For more information about the May 19 memorial ceremony, call Randazzo at (586) 739-4046.
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