Interest in the new POW/MIA memorial wall at Tacoma’s War Memorial Park has taken off since our original story published in early September.
At that time the project’s ringleader, retired Army Lt. Col. Joseph Zelazny of Tacoma, said it looked like there would be 42 black granite tiles mounted in time for the Sept. 19 dedication ceremony. Each engraved tile briefly states the service record of a former local prisoner of war or service member who went missing in action.
We caught up with Zelazny this week and he was pleasantly surprised about underestimating the number.
“We put up 59 tiles. That’s what’s on the wall now,” said Zelazny, 88, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. “And since then, I’ve received 7 more in the mail that want to go up. We’ll fill that wall up pretty damn quick.”
A few other numbers shared by Zelazny:
* Of those 59 names now on the wall, 43 were represented in person at the ceremony either by the veteran serviceman, the surviving spouse or the next of kin.
* A total of 216 people attended the event.
Zelazny’s group also gave the city a 6-by-8 foot POW/MIA flag to be displayed permanently at the park near the Narrows bridges. It replaces a smaller version of the flag that just wasn’t visible enough, he said.
“That baby is flying up there now,” he said, “and she looks good.”
It’s not too late to get a tile for a loved one. Any former prisoners with ties to Pierce County, or their next of kin, can contact Joseph Zelazny at 253-752-8266 or write to: POW/MIA Monument Committee, 1035 S. Whitman St., No. 1, Tacoma, WA 98465.