INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indianapolis is famous for its war monuments. It has the most outside of Washington, D.C.
One woman said something is wrong with one of them: Her cousin’s name was left off the Korean War Memorial despite the fact that he served, even earning a Purple Heart. That memorial is in The American Legion Mall in the 700 block of North Pennsylvania Street.
Stories are born in Crystal Rhodes’ house. She is a professional storyteller. The author’s latest project is much more personal, though. The latest book she is writing is about her cousin, Army Cpl. Sterling Payne Jr.
Payne was a father, a son and a Purple Heart recipient who died serving his country in the Korean War.
On Indiana’s Korean War Memorial, you won’t find Payne’s name. For reasons Rhodes could not find out, he was left off the monument.
“I think he’d be angry” that he is not on monument, Rhodes said. “I would think any soldier who served his country and was wounded two times and then died in service of his country would be kind of hurt and angry.”
The Indiana War Memorials Commission, after 20 hours of research requested by I-Team 8, found the answer: When the monument was constructed, they used the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration list to decide who would go on the monument. Payne’s entry did not list his state or county of record because of an administrative error.
The commission later voted to fix the error and add Payne to the monument.
“I was over the moon but I wasn’t shocked or surprised,” Rhodes said. “It was like confirmation of what I felt was just the right thing to do because this young man represents a lot of young men, forgotten young men.”
The book Rhodes is writing about her cousin has a new, happy ending.
The executive director of the War Memorials Commission said the engraver needs it to be 60 degrees outside to do the engraving. The executive director also said he has no way to know if there are other veterans left off monuments. But, the leader of the commission said, “This happens a lot.”