Wall of Honor recognizes grads who serve their country

Portland High School graduate William Donnell points out his "dog tag" listed under the Department of the Navy seal. (Leader file photo)

Portland High School is seeking additional names to its Wall of Honor, which recognizes former students who are enlisted in the various branches of military service. The Wall is on display in the lobby of the school and features 100 “dog tags” with the names of former PHS students, lined up under the seal of the appropriate branch of service. Soon there will be 10 more names added.

The Wall of Honor is dedicated to the Fallen and currently lists one name — Joey Link, USAF.

The Wall began as a project of former teacher John Chisari’s Criminal Law students.

“The class created the criteria that we go by which is a graduate of Portland High School since the building opened, and the graduate must have completed basic training,” teacher Helena Baier explained. “I have had some people ask why we do not include every Portland veteran, but I go by the original criteria, and we do have a plaque at the ticket booth at the football field honoring all veterans.

“The metal nameplates are created by welding and machine classes. I then spray the nameplates with a solution to prevent tarnish, and Mr. (David) Woods mounts the nameplates.”

Baier was honored to be asked to take over the Wall of Honor after Mr. Chisari retired.

“When Mr. Chisari retired, I was asked to keep the Wall of Honor updated,” she explained. “This was due to our former principal, Mr. (Bob) Gideon, being aware that my late father was a Vietnam veteran (Special Forces/Green Beret) along with one of my sisters being an Army veteran, and my brother a Colonel in the Air Force. My strong military ties makes this task a great honor for me.”

Students passing the Wall are reminded daily of their former classmates’ call to duty and the sacrifices they make daily protecting their freedoms.

“The people on the wall were classmates at one point and sat in the same rooms as we do today,” former student Mary Bazenet said at the unveiling of the wall in April of 2011. “It means that (we) know who is responsible in Portland for defending (us).”

“It gives recognition to the courageous soldiers in this little town,” former student Rachel Anderson added. “There are so many graduates from Portland High School who go into the military. These brave people have never been honored in the way they should. This wall will give the honor and recognition they truly deserve.”

Names can be submitted to Ms. Baier at helena.baier@sumnerschools.org.

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