Thursday, July 02, 2009

Honoring Durham's military service members


The stories of 318 men and women who served, or who are now serving, in the military, are told in "Durham Honor Roll (Volume II): Military Service From 1946 - 2009" (spiral bound, available through Durham Friends of the Library, P.O. Box 505, Durham, CA 95938). Compiled by Adriana ("Rian") Farley, the mini-biographies form a companion to her "Durham's World War II Honor Roll" published in 2005.

Published as an ongoing fundraiser for the Durham Library, the two books chronicle 522 service members with some connection to Durham High.

Many of the entries in Volume II are drawn from the ongoing "Now Serving" column, which began in 2005. "Some individuals and their families were very interested in the project," she writes, "others, less so. Some individuals wanted to reflect on their time in the military, others sought to forget those days." Each page is devoted to a single name (with photographs if available) and, where biographical information is sparse or non-existent, Farley has added research information from relevant Web sites.

There are sections on the Navy SEALs, the Marine Corps values, the U.S. Army in Vietnam and hundreds of other entries connecting the military experiences of those from Durham with the larger service community.

Walter "Mark" Bender, who served in the Marine Corps from 1974 through 1979, "has been an English teacher at Durham High School since 1997." Robert Allen Cooke, who served in the Army, "died in Vietnam War action during a Tuesday night patrol" in 1969; his name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, "The Wall." Katherine Draper's Army career spanned thirty years, beginning in 1965, and she writes that "it was a great life and I loved personnel work."

Also in the Army: Sean Farley, son of Rick and Rian Farley, who served in Iraq beginning in 2004. Greg Mortell served in the Navy from 1996 through 2001, and received the NATO medal for Kosovo operations. Chris Raabe began his career in the U.S. Air Force in 2002 and has logged more than 1500 hours "in prone position at the aft of" a refueling tanker; he calls it "the tube of pain."

The "Honor Roll" is an extraordinary tribute to those whose pain, and sacrifice, help ensure our freedom from one generation to the next.


Mike said...

Forty years ago, September 23, 1969, I was with Robert Cooke when we were ambushed. He died ten feet from me.

Chris said...

Mike, if you look back here please contact my wife. She was Roberts Niece. She would love to talk to you and share pictures etc...

Email boomgirl72 at

She would really appreciate it!!! Thanks.