Monument honoring decorated soldier in works

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 1, 2010

An organizational meeting was held earlier this week to lay the groundwork for a non-profit organization that will raise money to build a monument at the entrance to the Rodney J. Evans Conference Center under construction at Lake Jackson.

The facility, commonly known as the lake building, will house convertible meeting rooms that seat up to 350 and a kitchen area. It also includes an amphitheater facing the lake.

Sen. Jimmy Holley said he met with Florala Mayor Robert Williamson, City Councilman Jimmy Waldrop, artist Larry Strickland, and others who’ll coordinate the effort to raise about $125,000 for the monument.

Sgt. Evans received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam, where he died on a reconnaissance mission in Tay Ninh Province on July 18, 1969.

The squad leader had been warned by a scout that a well-defined trail was booby-trapped and led his squad on a route parallel to the trail. His group had started to move forward when a nearby squad was hit by the blast of a concealed mine. When Sgt. Evans spotted a second enemy device, he shouted a warning to his men, dived to the ground and crawled toward the mine. Just a he reached it, an enemy soldier detonated the explosive and Sgt. Evans absorbed the full impact with this body.

“His gallant and selfless action saved his comrades from probable death or injury and served as an inspiration to his entire unit,” the citation reads.

Holley said Strickland has sketched the monument of Evans, which will include a fountain.

“The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest our nation gives,” Holley said. He said the monument is expected to cost $75,000, but the goal is to raise more for perpetual care.