Battle Born Memorial to honor fallen war heroes, including Nevada natives
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The soon-to-be erected Battle Born Memorial — which will be dedicated to Nevada’s Fallen Warriors — will include 894 names.
One of those names will be the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s John Aleck.
Private First Class (PFC) Aleck, a U.S. Marine, was killed during the Vietnam Conflict in 1969.
“Each individual’s story is different,” said Ben Aleck, the younger brother of Private Aleck. “I think the intent of this memorial is good — to honor all the people who served and those who died.”
That is exactly Governor Brian Sandoval’s intent.
“The Battle Born Memorial will be a sanctuary where our heroes’ stories can be shared and remembered,” Sandoval said. “Etched for eternity, the monument will bear the name of every fallen warrior from our state as an everlasting memorial to their service and sacrifice.”
PFC Aleck has a military legacy, as his mother and an uncle also served in the U.S. military. His mother, Vira Aleck, joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 and served during World War II. His uncle, Harold Aleck, joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1951 and served during the Korean War.
According to Ben Aleck, being born into a family of soldiers was just part of his brother’s path to serve his country.
“Practically the entire Class of 1968 ended up in the war,” Ben Aleck recalled.
He explained that those men who were not in college or didn’t come from a wealthy family didn’t have a choice but to enlist.
“Like most of the guys around our age, my brother didn’t have the opportunity to avoid war,” Ben Aleck said. “I respected him, and I respected all the many others, especially here from the Colony, who served.
PFC Aleck, the eldest sibling of nine, was born in 1947, and his mother primarily raised him. PFC Aleck grew up on the Colony and also attended Stewart Indian School before enlisting in 1968.
Like many young men of his era, PFC Aleck volunteered for military service.
While a Marine, PFC Aleck often took point or walked the point, which meant he was the first and most exposed soldier in a warfare military formation during a mission or an exercise.
In fact, PFC Aleck was the point man during the combat assignment when he was killed.
“Nevada will never forget the sacrifice of our servicemen and women and their families,” Governor Sandoval said. “This memorial will serve as a lasting tribute to those who defend our nation and dedicate their lives in the name of freedom and country.”
PFC Aleck was one of 148 Nevadans and 58,209 Americans in the military who lost his or her life during 1961-1975.
According to the National Museum of the American Indian, throughout the Vietnam Era, 42,000 American Indians enlisted in the military, 90 percent of them volunteering, with the others serving through draft selection.
The Potawatomi Traveling Times reported that 232 names that identify as American Indians or Alaska Native service members were killed in action or missing in action during the Vietnam War.
It was during the 2013 Legislative Session when the Legislature approved Senate Bill 230 — originally sponsored by Senator David R. Parks, a democrat from a Las Vegas district — which authorized the creation of the memorial.
In December 2017, Sandoval announced the final funding approval of the structure that will be built in Carson City on the Capitol Complex.
Earlier, in a June 2017 meeting, the Nevada Veterans Service Commission voted unanimously on the design of the memorial.
The total cost of the memorial is estimated at $450,000. The Nevada Department of Veterans Services previously committed $150,000 to the project.
Plus, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General has pledged $300,000 in non-tax-payer settlement monies to fund the monument, a request that earned unanimous approval from the Interim Finance Committee and approved by the State Board of Equalization.
The settlement funds are from a multi-state settlement reached with Johnson & Johnson regarding certain over-the-counter drugs.
The State of Nevada’s Public Works will prepare the site and the foundation starting in July 2018.
Acting Public Works Director Chris Chimits said the memorial is designed to take advantage of the sun with a ceiling made of metal slats pierced with the names of fallen soldiers so that as the sun shines through them, the images of those names will appear on the ground beneath the memorial for visitors to see.
The memorial was created by artist Zak Ostrowki, a UNLV graduate who will fabricate the design before it is permanently installed in Carson City.
The project will break ground this summer and is expected to be completed by Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2018.
“This memorial will be good for my family,” Ben Aleck said.
This article first published in the RSIC’s monthly newsletter, The Camp News, in its January edition, and is republished by First Nation’s Focus with permission. Visit http://www.rsic.org/rsic-newsletter to learn more.