TISHOMINGO, Okla.- On the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, veterans gathered in Tishomingo to discuss their continued efforts for a veteran’s center in Johnston County.
Retired General Al Logan of the US Air Force had just moved back to Tishomingo when the old Veterans of Foreign Wars building was burned to the ground by an arsonist in 2008. All records and war memorabilia was destroyed.
“This is a very patriotic town and county and to find that someone would actually torch the building is hard to believe,” Logan said.
Johnston Co. Veteran Center Chairman and Navy veteran Stan Sewell says there is still no place local for veterans to go, citing the closest places as Oklahoma City or Muskogee.
“We’re losing our World War II veterans at 2000 a day probably and a lot of them can’t travel, can’t sit very long,” Sewell said.
The VFW and American Legion will have offices and meeting space at the Johnston County Veteran’s Center, and will be available to the honor guard units. It will also have considerably more security than the center that burned down.
Engineer and US Army Corps of Engineers veteran Michael Olinghouse says the 1.2 million dollar Veteran’s Center will serve not only veterans but the entire community.
“We went to FEMA and we got the building, the guidelines for that, and we designed a 5000 square foot emergency storm shelter,” Olinghouse said.
The storm shelter will hold 400 people and be able handicap accessible.
But they’re still a long way from having the funds.
The organization is seeking donations large and small, which can be dropped off at any Landmark Bank or mailed to P.O. Box #71, Tishomingo, OK 73460.
Lee Cargill, the World War II vet who envisioned the center’s creation, says he’s not given up the fight to see this building built.
“At 88 you don’t have too many goals left in life,” Cargill said. “And this is it. My main one.”
The center will receive a matching donation once they hit their $250,000 goal. They are about a third of the way there.
Work will begin on the Johnston County Veteran’s Center as soon as they reach that goal.
More information about the project can be found at http://jcvetcenter.org/.