Gone, But Not Forgotten

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GCHS Class of '65 Remembers Classmates Killed in Vietnam

By Joe Foreman, Editor

    There are many traditions associated with Glenwood Homecoming, but none more meaningful than a ritual carried out every five years by the Glenwood Community High School Class of 1965.

    When the remaining members of the Class of ‘65 come to Glenwood on homecoming weekend for their class reunion, they gather at the Mills County Vietnam Memorial on the front lawn of the Mills County Courthouse to honor three of their classmates that died while serving their country in Vietnam during the late 1960s. This year, they came to the memorial after Friday afternoon’s homecoming parade and honored classmates Gary Williams, Kendal Kruse and Donald Jedlicka by placing a black and gold wreath in front of the marker.
    “We’ve placed a wreath for them every five years at our reunion since the Vietnam Memorial was built,” classmate Gary Roenfeld said. “Why? We’re at the reunion and they couldn’t be. We’re renewing high school friendships that they never would.”
    The Mills County Vietnam Memorial was dedicated on Veterans’ Day 1983.
    Connie (Decker) Clark, also a member of the Class of ‘65, said she and her classmates have always been a tight-knit group, but the deaths of three classmates within a few years of their graduation brought them even closer.
    “The class has always been close and we seem to get closer at each reunion,” Clark said. “I don’t know if it’s because we lost our three classmates at such a young age. We had lost those three before we had our first reunion.
    “The reunion committee decided this is something we need to do.”
    In addition to placing the wreath at the Vietnam Memorial, class members make it a point to remember Williams, Kruse, Jedlicka and other classmates who are no longer living throughout their four-day reunion weekend. Clark said framed photos and candles honored their deceased classmates at Saturday evening’s reunion dinner.
    “Fourteen classmates are now gone,” Clark said. “They were a part of the Class of 1965 and they need to remain a part of the Class of ‘65.”