It’s been 53 years since Army SSgt. Martin Walker Jr. was killed while serving in Vietnam.
Fifty-three years is a long time to wait to honor the sacrifice that Walker and two others with Brookfield/Masury ties made in service of their country, but Walker’s sister, Pauline Walker Phillips, said she probably would not have been ready emotionally to deal with something like the May 29 dedication renaming a bridge in honor of those servicemen if it had been done years ago.
“I’m trying not to be emotional, but 53 years have passed,” she said while standing on the newly named Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. “This will put some memory to my heart that I can put away some things that I’ve been holding. I couldn’t do this years ago but, today, God has given me the ability to be here.”
The bridge on Warren Sharon Road, east of Yankee Run Golf Course, also honors Marine Lance Cpl. McArthur Coleman and Army Pfc. Paul E. Good.
“His name will be memorialized for years and years to come,” said Bob Good, the brother of Paul Good. “It’s about time, for one. With a lot of mixed feelings, I’m very glad that at least this has happened and this was done.”
The dedication marks the end of 13 years of work for Joe Mariano, who worked through various state and local officials until he got the cooperation of township Trustees Dan Suttles, Mark Ferrara and Shannon Devitz, county Engineer Randy Smith and county Commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa, Dennis Malloy and Niki Frenchko.
“I’m very happy,” Mariano said. “Finally, we got it all done. Now, I can ride by here every day, see it’s all done. Everybody can get the notice of who these guys were that gave up their life for us.”
Suttles called the dedication “long overdue.”
“It was a long time, but I want to thank all of those folks who were amenable and worked with Joe and put this together so that years from now, as people drive by this area, and long after I and all of my family are gone, people will see Paul’s name,” said Good, who lives in Rochester, N.Y.
There is a bittersweet quality to the honor of his brother, Good said
“I often think of him kind of frozen in time at 19 but then other times I’ll think, ‘You know, he should be 76 now, and have a family and have children and have grandchildren,’” Good said. “As well as that 19-year-old, that 76-year-old brother is who I dearly miss. It’s very difficult.”
Phillips said she was happy that her father, Martin Walker Sr., was still alive to learn of the honor, noting that her brother was cut from the same cloth as her father.
“I accept this award for my father,” she said. “My father will be 97 years old. He wasn’t able to come because it still, I think, touches him really deeply.”
She said it was fitting that this particular bridge was chosen.
“We rode this road going back and forth to school, and had to walk it going home.” she said. “Every time you go past, it’s gotta be a memory for him.”
Phillips thanked Mariano for his persistence.
“This man has been working, he told me, over 13 years to make this dream a reality,” she said. “Thank you so much. Your efforts will never go unnoticed. I’ll always love you.”
Army SSgt. Martin Walker Jr.
Walker was born Aug. 9, 1948, in Trumbull County, and listed Masury as his hometown. He was a graduate of Brookfield High School, where he had been captain of the football team and a thespian.
“My brother Marty was an exceptional person,” said his sister, Pauline Walker Phillips. “There was nothing that he could not do. He was always spontaneous. He just did things.”
Walker entered the army in 1968 and was a member of A company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division when his Vietnamese tour started on July 14, 1969.
Walker was killed in Binh Dinh Province on Feb. 25, 1970, when he was en route to a night defensive position and was met by the enemy, armed with small arms.
He was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Air Medal, and is buried in Brookfield Township Cemetery.
“They don’t make men like he was,” Phillips said. “He represented who my father (Martin Walker Sr.) is. My father’s the same type of man. He (Walker Jr.) didn’t live long but he left a lot of memories.”
Phillips thanked her brother’s high school classmates for remembering Walker, reaching out to her over the years, and holding a memorial service on the occasion of the class’s 30th reunion.
Sources: NEWS On the Green interview, honorstates.org, coffeltdatabase.org and army.togetherweserved.com
Marine Lance Cpl. McArthur Coleman
Coleman was born Oct. 16, 1943, in Trumbull County, and was living in Masury when he enlisted in June 1964.
Assigned to B Company, 3rd Tank Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, Coleman was a tank crewman when the M-48A3 tank he was in fell into a hole while crossing a stream in Quang Nam Province, south of Danang, on March 30, 1966. Coleman and Cpl. Henry L. Whaley drowned.
Divers recovered the bodies.
Coleman’s mother, Alma L. Coleman, and brother, Donald Coleman, had moved to Marion, Ala. His father, Elijah, had died in 1957.
Coleman is buried in Provewell Baptist Church Cemetery, Sprott, Ala.
Sources: honorstates.org, findagrave.com, marines.togetherweserved.org and coffeltdatabase.org
Army Pfc. Paul E. Good
Good was born Sept. 26, 1947, in Mercer County. He lived in Masury for 7½ years into high school, but moved out of town and graduated from Sharpsville High School in 1965.
“He wasn’t gonna go to college,” said Good’s brother, Bob. “He graduated from high school, got a job in one of the mills in Sharon, he had a girlfriend, wanted to buy a car – just be a young 19-year-old. Like I often said, he couldn’t have found Vietnam on a map if you paid him $100.”
Good was drafted into the service, entering in 1966. He arrived in Vietnam on May 9, 1967, and was assigned to Company A, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, as part of the Mobile Riverine Force, a joint army-navy unit created to address the many waterways in the Mekong Delta, which restricted the movements of ground units.
Good participated in one of the MRF’s earliest engagements. On June 19, 1967, he was part of a battle in Gia Dinh in which the Americans tried to squeeze a Vietcong unit by attacking it from three sides. Good was initially missing in action and was identified four days later. He died of multiple fragmentation wounds.
He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Good is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Hermitage.
“He was near to the wild heart of life,” Bob Good said, referring to a James Joyce passage from “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”
“He was just such a good person. Being a youngster, he would get into trouble, but it was always good trouble. It was always fun stuff. He was never a mean person. Everybody that knew him loved him. He was a wonderful, free-spirited person.”
Sources: NEWS On the Green interview, honorstates.org, avenueofflags.com, army.togetherweserved.org and coffeltdatabase.org