My sister Gloria is on the Museum Board in Dexter, Iowa. The museum has a large display about the Wilson family, since all seven siblings grew up in Dexter.
In 1939, their father became a tenant farmer at Minburn, Iowa, pulling the family out of the scarcity years of the Great Depression. But WWII pulled all five brothers into the military. Only two came home. The display in the Dexter Museum reflects their service and great loss.
I sometimes helped man the museum. After listening to my talk about the Wilson family, one man invited me outside to look at a car he’d restored. He backed it up to the museum.
Tom Brink’s 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. The car had belonged to Mike Heller, one of Brink’s high school classmates. PFC Michael L. Heller, son of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Heller, was killed in action at Que Son Valley, south of DaNang, South Vietnam Friday, February 20, 1970. He was 19 years old.
Tom found his classmate’s car in a junkyard, where it had been for 40 years. He restored it with new parts, a fresh coat of paint and a mural on the trunk.
This car now pays tribute to Heller and all Vietnam Veterans.
Mike Heller is buried at Dunlap, Iowa.
What a compelling way to remember and honor a classmate who was killed in action in Vietnam.
This is both fitting and unusual.
Thank you, Anne.
Very fitting. And, that’s back when cars were cars.
I’d agree with that! I can’t believe he found THE car that belonged to his classmate.
That’s a very moving tribute.
It was amazing to see it in person.
I recently lost a dear friend, a Vietnam veteran of Vietnam of two tours. He was everyone’s best friend and followed the code of the Marines throughout his years.
My heart goes out to you. Oh, I hope someone has written his story so it’s not forgotten.
I tried to get him to talk, but he would say much.
A former neighbor, also a Vietnam Marine, has struggled. Another terrible cost of war.
That was an awful hell-hole!
Guy was there in the Air Force, so didn’t have to get into it. But in DC Gilbert’s books you certainly experience a miserable a corner of it.
I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, GP. Please accept my condolences.
Thank you. I’m sorry to have mentioned it to you, It wasn’t my intention to make you feel bad. You are someone who is easy to talk to.
GP, we’re blessed that you shared it with us.
You’re welcome, GP.
What a touching tribute to honor a friend.
That’s quite a tribute and many people will see it when he goes to car shows. My brother used to restore cars and this would have impressed him greatly.
What a wonderful tribute!
What a sweet gesture. So touching
Best one ever!
Great post! I love it when someone takes the time and effort to remember important people!
I was certainly amazed at this one! Plus, I do like a 1955 Chevy.
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That’s such a creative and unique memorial. Thanks for sharing this story.