The De La Salle Collegiate Alumni Wall of Military Honor is unveiled Nov. 7.

The De La Salle Collegiate Alumni Wall of Military Honor is unveiled Nov. 7.

Photo by Deb Jacques


‘There is a bond that connects all veterans’

Wall of Military Honor unveiled at DLS

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published November 22, 2021

 Guest speaker Col. Paul Kucharek, front, who graduated in 1983, gives a  hug to master of ceremonies, substitute teacher and coach Mike Jolly.

Guest speaker Col. Paul Kucharek, front, who graduated in 1983, gives a hug to master of ceremonies, substitute teacher and coach Mike Jolly.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 The military veterans who attended De La Salle gather for a group photo in front of the Wall of Military Honor.

The military veterans who attended De La Salle gather for a group photo in front of the Wall of Military Honor.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN — The military veterans who once attended De La Salle Collegiate High School will forever be known for their service to the U.S.

On Nov. 7, the school community gathered in the commons area for the unveiling of the De La Salle Collegiate Alumni Wall of Military Honor. The wall is dedicated to each veteran who graduated from the all-boys Catholic high school when it was located in Detroit and at its current location in Warren.

“The purpose is twofold. The first is to honor our alumni who chose this type of service. The second is to inspire our kids to think about going into the service, the Peace Corps or ministry,” DLS substitute teacher and coach Mike Jolly said. “There is a bond that connects all veterans. We felt it was important to our servicemen to have a place in school specifically for them. It’s been a very rewarding experience for everybody.”  

Jolly, a Vietnam veteran, remembers his return after serving in the military.

“Those of us who served in Vietnam were not welcome home,” Jolly recalled. “It was an unpopular war.”

Several guest speakers shared stories during the dedication. Karen Poxon Beckwith talked about brother, Robert Poxon, a 1965 DLS graduate who gave his life for his country. Poxon was killed in Vietnam June 2, 1969. For his service, he posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

According to the 1st Cavalry Division Association’s website, 1cda.org, Poxon was a first lieutenant, with the U.S. Army, Troop B, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. According to the website, Poxon received the citation “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Poxon Beckwith, of Shelby Township, has fond memories of her big brother, who was 10 years older. There were six children in the family. One of many proud moments is having the Robert L. Poxon Post No. 326 American Legion, located at 40250 Mound Road in Sterling Heights, named after the late veteran.

“After he graduated in De La Salle in 1965, he wanted to be a priest and went to the seminary for a year,” Poxon Beckwith said. “After a year he changed his mind. When he came home, he decided he was going to enlist.”

While in Vietnam, “He would write letters home to the family,” his sister said. “If there was something he didn’t want my mom or kids to know about, he would write to my dad at work. He would ask, ‘Why won’t the United States let us win this war?’”

Poxon Beckwith was in the sixth grade when her brother died. One vision Poxon Beckwith has never forgotten is the students from St. Juliana Catholic Church who lined the sidewalk as the Poxon family made their way to church for the young man’s funeral. In 1971, she, her parents and siblings traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive Poxon’s Congressional Medal of Honor.

“To me, Bob will always be 22,” Poxon Beckwith said. “That used to be my biggest fear that Bob would be forgotten. I don’t have that fear anymore after meeting the other men and De La Salle putting up that wall.”

She tells her son and daughter, now grown, all about their Uncle Bobby.

“I don’t remember Bob the brother as much as I remember Bob the soldier,” Poxon Beckwith said. “Bob was shy and quiet but fiercely loyal to his friends. He would stick up for people.”

Poxon Beckwith shares her brother’s legacy wherever she can. In 2012, when visiting Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas, she brought his Congressional Medal of Honor.

“They put it on the missing man table,” she recalled. “Many of today’s soldiers went over to look at it.”

The unveiling welcomed keynote speaker and 1983 DLS graduate Col. Paul Kucharek. The retired U.S. Air Force commander, who teaches in Idaho, flew in from his home in Wyoming to participate.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be here for this Military Wall of Honor dedication ceremony,” Kucharek said. “As we look at this wall today, in future days, in future years, in future decades, I hope it will be a reminder to all of us of those alumni ... who served. Some who, as Mike Jolly very well pointed out, paid the ultimate price.

“But all of these individuals gave. They were willing to sacrifice everything, including their own lives if need be so that they could defend the liberty and the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution,” Kucharek said.

A few months ago, Kucharek toured DLS with his father and Jolly, an adventure that took Kucharek “back a few years.” The retired colonel was part of the school’s first graduating class at the Warren school after relocating from Detroit.

“As we walked around the school ... I looked at the pictures on the walls and what I saw when I saw those pictures, just fantastic memories,” Kucharek said. “I had some amazing memories going to this school, graduating from this school. We walked these halls of the schools, we had hopes, we had dreams. I started thinking about military memorials.

“I hope (with) this memorial we will see more than just names and numbers. We will look through the names and we will see people, real people, former students, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, nephews, friends. Every veteran whose name will be on this memorial was modeled by interactions that they had in this school. This school has always been more about the building,” Kucharek said.

To view the entire ceremony, visit the De La Salle Collegiate YouTube page.

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