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Maine West will display plaques in the new “Warrior Room” honoring graduates who died in the Vietnam War

Construction at Maine West High School in Des Plaines as of August 10, 2020.

Eileen McMahon, principal of Maine West High School, said Friday that one or more plaques bearing the names of about 17 male Maine West graduates who died while serving in the Vietnam War will be displayed in a display case in the school's new “Warrior Room.”

McMahon's statement came in the form of an email to Maine West graduates and others who, days earlier, had expressed anger and disappointment that the plaques were not returned to their previous place at the school following a major renovation that will be largely completed in 2022. The plaques had been on display in the school's library for years. During the renovation, they were moved and put into storage.

In her email, McMahon said the Warrior Room will not only display the plaques bearing the names of deceased West graduates, but also “several other important artifacts and valuable school items.” She explained that the Warrior Room's final configuration was only completed at the beginning of this school year. “But the display cases are in place and the plaques will be there very soon,” McMahon wrote. She added, “…make no mistake, we know what these men gave for our country and we honor them accordingly. They are a part of who we are.”

When a Maine West High School graduate recently learned that one or more plaques had been placed at the school to honor deceased graduates, it sparked an outcry of anger and disappointment among former students.

The numerous emotional reactions from Maine West graduates to the man's June 19 Facebook post led McMahon to previously post an apology message on Facebook, explaining that many items were moved during a major renovation of the school building in 2021-22.

The first Facebook post to raise awareness of the plaques' disappearance was from a graduate who said that when he visited the renovated space, he was “both sad and quite angry” that the plaque had been removed and was “in storage.”

In response, dozens of people expressed outrage, in some cases suggesting petitioning the Maine Township High School District 207 Board of Education to demand that the plaques be appropriately displayed. For years, the plaque hung on a wall near the school's main entrance.

In an email to the Journal & Topics, Linda Misker called it a “shame” that the monument was not returned to its original location after renovations were completed. She said she is the widow of Steven P. Mullineaux, a Vietnam veteran whose name is on the monument.

“This memorial should also include all former students who lost their lives during the conflict in the Persian Gulf,” she said. “If you start hiding our history from your students, you are on the wrong track and you need to get back on the right track.”

According to military records, Mullineaux died on September 28, 1969, at the age of 19. He was killed by an explosive device in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam. He was a Marine rifleman first class.

According to The Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial, these are the Des Plaines residents who died while serving in the Vietnam War:

LT JAMES MILTON ALBRIGHT
1LT HOWARD JOHN BECKER Jr
PFC MICHAEL STEVEN BRYANT
PFC BRIAN JEFFREY CANNADA
MAJ RALPH LAURENCE CARLOCK
WHERE JAMES T DONAHUE Jr
LCPL PETE GERALD HECKWINE
PFC THOMAS PATRICK KLAUSING
SGT LEONARD J LEWANDOWSKI Jr
SP4 ROBERT EDWIN MATSON
PFC STEVEN PAUL MULLINEAUX
PFC JAMES THOMAS RENZ
PFC PATRICK CARLISLE RIORDAN
2LT DAVID WILLIAM SKIBBE
SGT ALLAN ROBERT TYLER
CPL ROBERT STEPHEN UTECHT
PFC DONALD EDWARD WALTERS Jr

An attempt by the Journal & Topics to contact Misker on Friday, June 21, was unsuccessful.

(Editor's note: Anyone who would like to add to this report can do so by emailing jtmedianews@yahoo.com.)

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Anna Harden

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