Writer  /  Kristen Sexton
Photos  /  Provided

To some, Tracy Road is simply a road that connects S.R. 135 and US 31. However, to someone from New Whiteland, the road is the location for one of the southside’s proudest memorials. Proctor Park was dedicated on May 3, 2008, to honor all of our nation’s veterans and hometown heroes. But in particular, one very special veteran. Sgt. Joseph E. Proctor was the son of New Whiteland residents Lloyd (Rabbit) and Sharon Proctor. On May 3, 2006, he was serving his country in Iraq when he willingly placed himself in harm’s way.

On that day, a dump truck loaded with 350 pounds of explosives breached the wall at the compound where he and numerous other soldiers were stationed. Proctor stood between his comrades and the enemy vehicle, fired his weapon, striking and killing the driver. Unfortunately, when the truck rolled to a stop, short of the barracks where soldiers lay sleeping, the vehicle detonated, killing Proctor. Standing tall that day, Proctor once again put others first and unselfishly gave his life to save so many others.

The story of Proctor moved New Whiteland’s Clerk-Treasurer, Maribeth Alspach, so much so that she set out to create a memorial in honor of Proctor, and the many others who have laid down their lives for their country. That vision became a reality on May 3, 2008, the second anniversary of Proctor’s death. As echoed through testimonies during Proctor Park’s dedication, “This park is a small but sincere means of thanking all of our military personnel, those who have served and those currently serving. This park is a tribute to all veterans, those living and deceased. We would also like to thank the families of these brave men and women and honor each of you as well for your sacrifices as you are called upon to face separation from your loved ones. There is no greater country in the world than this, the United States of America. We are so blessed to call this home, and we are forever in your debt for willingly defending our freedom, protecting our borders and keeping us safe.”

In 2012, the Hoosier Heroes Wall was added to Proctor Park. This wall has the names of more than 200 Indiana soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our Armed Forces since September 11, 2001. Present at the wall’s dedication were two sets of parents who had sons listed on that memorial. One of those men had also served in Vietnam. Thinking back on the way Vietnam veterans were treated as they arrived home from war and grateful for the sacrifice these war heroes made, Alspach was once again inspired to add to Proctor Park. On September 27, 2014, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial was dedicated. Mark Trina, a Navy veteran, who designed, constructed and donated the Hoosier Heroes Wall, also designed the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Trina’s dad had served in Vietnam in the United States Navy. The painstaking labor was done by Danny Wilson, a brick mason and former Navy Seal.

After the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial, many reached out to thank Alspach for her work in making the memorials happen. As she points out though, memorials such as these could never become a reality without the community’s support. The town of New Whiteland and its residents have come together to give of their money and time to honor our veterans. As you are driving down Tracy Road, be sure to notice the efforts put forth to honor the supreme sacrifices made by our Hoosier Heroes.

After the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial, many reached out to thank Alspach for her work in making the memorials happen, including members of the local members of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle club, an organization that supports accountability for the Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action of all wars (rollingthunder1.com).

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