From Prince William County Schools News Memorial Day 2009.

These are our very own young people who have given the ultimate sacrifice. While they are not only fallen from our area, this ceremony represents one of the things that is good and decent about our young people.

Gar-Field High School in Prince William County observed a moment of silence on Friday, May 22, to honor through remembrance the men and women of our armed forces who have given their lives in the defense of the freedoms enjoyed by all who live in the United States.

Gar-Field High School Marine Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets and the Gar-Field Fallen Heroes Memorial Committee, chaired by Bill Willis, retired science teacher and Vietnam veteran, placed a wreath at the Gar-Field Fallen Heroes Memorial to honor the three Gar-Field students killed in action on the battlefields in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan and the four students killed in action that graduated from Hylton and Potomac High Schools. On Saturday, May 23, Gar-Field High School Junior ROTC cadets went to Quantico National National Cemetery to place a bouquet of flowers on the grave of Sgt.David Ruhren.

The fallen servicemen are:

Medical Corpsman Richard Yates, United States Navy, class of 1965 Gar-Field HS (Vietnam);

Corporal Brian Medina, United States Marine Corps, class of 2002 Gar-Field HS (Iraq);

Sergeant David Ruhren, United States Army, class of 2002 Gar-Field HS (Iraq);

Captain Brian Letendre, United States Marine Corps, class of 1996 Potomac HS (Afghanistan);

Sergeant Leroy Alexander, United States Army, class of 1997 Hylton HS (Iraq);

Sergeant Jack Bryant, United States Army, class of 1999 Hylton HS (Iraq); and

First Lieutenant Benjamin Hall, United States Army, class of 2001 Hylton High School (Afghanistan).

Following the loss of two Gar-Field graduates in December of 2002, a Fallen Heroes Memorial was created in the school to honor all three losses from Gar-Field. Each Memorial Day during the moment of silence the school’s Junior ROTC cadets place a wreath of remembrance at this memorial and the servicemen’s names, ranks, branch of service, and year of graduation are read to the student body.

21 Thoughts to “Remembering Our Own Young Fallen Heroes”

  1. Witness Too

    Class of 2002. That is so terribly sad. M-H thank you for the beautiful post.

  2. Poor Richard

    Dedicated To The Citizens of Prince William County Who Lost
    Their Lives In The World War 1917-1918
    Fewell Athey
    Carrington Bailey
    Maurice Beavers
    John Blackwell
    John C. Blight
    Melvin Cornwell
    Vernard Cornwell
    Hugh Corum
    Archer Crawford
    McKinley Dodd
    Randolph W. Fair
    Wilson D. Garner
    Frank Green
    Harry Hatcher
    Perry Herring
    Champ L. Jones
    M.M. Lake
    G.O. Lynch
    Clarkson Mayhugh
    William Nickens
    Eugene Ross
    William Saffer
    Omer Smith
    Melbourne Varner
    Floyd Wetzel
    Kemp Williams

    (Monument in front of the Old Court House in Manassas – today it
    is flanked by two small American flags. May we remember all those
    who have ever served for our country).

  3. Moon-howler

    Thank you very much for adding those who served and lost their lives in WWI, Poor Richard. Do you have the WWII list handy?

    As I look at that WWI list, it seems like an awful huge amount of young men for such a small area and for such a short war.

  4. Poor Richard

    According to the 1920 census Prince William County had 13,660 residents,
    today the population is over 360,000 –more than twenty-six times
    the 1920 population. Multiply 28 lost times 26 and a
    comparable death toll today would be about 728.

    As far as a WWII monument, outside of military bases, I’m
    not sure where one for that conflict is located – certainly
    not with an official list of names on it. The best I can determine,
    58 PWC citizens lost their lives in WWII. Surprises me that
    a monument, like the WWI one, wasn’t erected at the Courthouse.
    May we honor them all.

  5. Poor Richard

    The 1940 census for PWC was 17,738 – over twenty times more
    people live here now so one would have to multiply the 58 lost
    times 20 which equals 1,160 to get a comparative impact in PWC today.
    Another stunning number and we haven’t even considered the massive
    impact of the pain and anguish of families and friends here.
    War can be hell.

  6. Creative Engineer

    Thanks for posting this MH – very nice tribute to our fallen soldiers, not only here in PWC (although sounds like there are many) but all over the US.

    Also, as usual, thanks Poor Richard for very interesting history lesson on as you say, the stunning proportion of fallen soldiers we had back in WWI. Really surprising percentage, shows how many were drafted or somehow involved in WWI and died in battle. Wonder what the actual ratio of PWC residents who served in WWI or WWII as percentage of total population back then was. Bet it is a high percentage, considering that WWI death toll of PWC residents.

    Again, thanks for all the statistics Poor Richard, very interested indeed. I happen to like statistics in general, but in this case very interesting.

  7. Moon-howler

    Thanks very much for the research, Poor Richard.

    Modern medicine has brought us a long way in treating battle injuries, for sure. It also sounds like many more people must have been swept up in WWI than I could ever imagine.

  8. Gainesville Resident

    You are right MH – back in WWI especially, many injuries probably were fatal that would not be these days. Still, interesting how many PWC WWI soldiers there were who died in battle. My grandfather fought in WWI, I believe he came to the USA in 1906 (was born in Latvia), around the age of 10 years old. He fought on our side in WWI in Germany – I guess probably was down there in the trenches along with many other US soldiers. He survived fortunately, as otherwise my Dad would not have been born in 1931.

  9. Moon-howler

    And we would not be having this conversation, Gainesville. 😉

    That is an odd thing to contemplate. The big ‘what if.’

  10. Poor Richard

    For the fifty years between the end of the War Between
    The States and the Great War, the former conflict never
    faded in Manassas. Prince William citizens would gather near
    the current Old Court House site for Confederate Memorial Day
    speeches and band music and then, with aging veterans leading the way
    and children showering their path with flowers and singing their
    praises, march to the Confederate Cemetary for closing prayers
    and the singing of the “Bonnie Blue Flag” and “Dixie”. It
    was one of the major annual events in PWC – people from
    “Down County” – the eastern end – would often come and spend
    the night. That finally began to change with WWI and the large
    number of local boys going off to fight under the Stars and Stripes.

  11. Gainesville Resident

    Good one MH! Ah yes, the good old time travel paradox – what if I went back in time and did something that caused my mother and father not to meet. But if I was never born in the first place, how is it I can go back in time to cause my mother and father not to meet.

    The stuff of many many science fiction books, and for those here on anti who follow the TV show Lost – the cliffhanger at the season ender (well, not exactly causing one’s parents not to meet, but blowing up where one lives in the past, no wait – actually their future – anyway way too confusing to explain here).

  12. Gainesville Resident

    On a more serious note, thanks again Poor Richard for your latest post, about PWC citizens gathering 50 years after “The War Between The States” and singing songs such as Bonnie Blue Flag (never heard of that one!) and Dixie. Fascinating stuff.

  13. Moon-howler

    I had heard stories like the one described by Poor Richard from family members. Virginians clung to the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ for years. Before she died, I asked my mother when Virginians started thinking of themselves of Americans. She pretty much confirmed what Poor Richard reported. I believe the 20s were the transitional period.

    Hard to imagine, isn’t it.

    Gainesville, I can see you have never read Gone with the Wind. 😉

    Here is a link to a little about Bonnie Blue Flag:

    I will keep looking for a full recording.

  14. Moon-howler

    Here are the words and the melody is up in the upper left hand corner. Great rousing tune!

    The first verse is the most famous and the only one I know.

  15. Poor Richard


    H.L. Thompson, yeoman first class, United States Navy,
    came to Manassas Tuesday, addressing the students of the high school
    and Eastern College on the great subjects of Patriotism, Duty
    and the practical advantages of the U.S. Navy as a career.
    Several of the young men of the town placed their names on
    cards carried by the recruiting officer, to prove that their
    partiotism was of a kind which is ready to serve its country.
    Edwin Rottman, Walter Moore, Cleland Ratcliffe and Fewell Athey
    were provisionally accepted. Mr. Athey left Manassas Tuesday
    to enlist on board the U.S.S. Mayflower.
    Manassas Journal (April 6, 1917)

    Fewell Athey? Scroll up and read the first name on the
    PWC WWI Memorial.

  16. Moon-howler

    Poor guy. Nothing more to say.

  17. Poor Richard

    Googled “U.S.S. Mayflower” and it was the name of the Presidential
    Yacht in 1917! Need the History Detective – was it also a
    recruiting station in WWI? We may never know.

  18. Moon-howler

    Won’t the Manassas Museum lend a hand with this Mayflower question? Or could it be that even back then, the MJM was what it was?

  19. Poor Richard

    While the population was small compared to today, Manassas
    was a robust community one hundred years ago – two department
    stores, two newspapers, a growing college that offered
    cultural and sports entertainment to the entire area, a
    grand new high school under construction, the largest candy
    factory in Virginia and nearly two dozen passenger trains
    a day. People lived, worked, loved, played and died here.
    We could easily do our own version of the play “Our Town”.
    (The ribbon cutting for the “new” Battle Street will be
    at 4PM in Old Town Manassas today – wonder what the folks
    who walked down it in late May 1909 might think?)

  20. Moon-howler

    What became of all those things? What department stores? Was Roher’s considered a dept. store back in the day?

  21. Poor Richard

    Rohr’s was always considered a variety store -and a great one,
    but the two department stores were Hynson'(now a Fauquier Bank
    Branch) at the corner of Main and Center and Hibbs and Giddings
    (now Prospero’s used book store) at West and Center.

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