Cost Slows Adding Names To Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial
Rick Salas Jr.
South Plains soldiers who die in combat are honored at the Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial. Their names go on the granite portion of the wall. However, NewsChannel 11 wanted to know why the names of some soldiers killed six months ago are still not on that wall.
Thirteen names are listed under Iraqi Freedom, honoring those killed by enemy fire; these people were either from the South Plains or had ties to this area.
Last spring Melissa Gutierrez was given the news many hope to never hear.
He died, "March 7th 2006," Gutierrez said.
Her brother Army Pfc. Rick Salas Jr. was killed in an explosion while driving a Humvee in Iraq. After Salas's death, the family went to the Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial expecting to see his name.
"I thought it would go up pretty quick, but we would go out there and we never saw his name out there," Gutierrez said.
Salas is now one of the 13 names engraved in black granite under Iraqi Freedom at the memorial. The American Legion Post 575 puts the names of those killed in action on the wall free of charge, but the group and the memorial itself are non-profit.
Jerry Dickson with the Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial said, "If soldiers are killed in action they get their name up there at no charge."
He says no disrespect is intended for the delay that sometimes occurs between time of death and their name getting on the wall.
"It is just we cannot afford to have it done (too often). It just costs too much to have a name put up here," said Dickson.
According to Dickson, just one name on this wall can cost between $500 to $600.
"We try to get them up as soon as possible. If we order the sand blaster to come out here and then next week we've got another one...we put up one, and then they have to come back out and put up another. That's just cost prohibitive," Dickson said.
Dickson says it does not matter how many names go up. One or ten names would cost the same amount for the template and labor. However, doing just one name and then ordering another a few weeks later will cost more.
"We have to wait until we can justify getting the template made," Dickson added.
Despite the waiting period, Gutierrez says she is still grateful her brother's memory is being honored.
"It means a lot to me. It just kind of shows one their honoring him for what he's done for our country," Gutierrez adds.
The Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial is unique in that all of the upkeep and expenses to add these names come from brick purchases and donations. As far as we know, there is no government money being poured into this project.
Anyone can buy a brick for $125 to honor a service member. To purchase a brick or to make a donation, call the Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial at (806) 794-9006.
This nationwide program launched by the Department of Defense, recognizes citizens' support for our military men and women and communicates that support to members of our Armed Forces at home and abroad.