St. Joseph group still collecting names of those in armed forces

ST. JOSEPH — The SJO Service Members organization is still honoring men and women serving in the armed forces.

Organization founder James Wasson said the group is still working to collect names of service members and honor them with a sign hung in their hometown.

"The first year it was really popular," Wasson said of the group founded in 2011. "We were fundraising and it was something that was new."

Wasson said he needs the public to alert him to signs that need to be put up and signs that need to be taken down. Once a service member returns to civilian life, the sign is presented to them.

"I'm pretty sure there are plenty of signs that need to go up, but we need to know about it," he said.

Corey Downes, who served in the Marine Corps., was given his sign at this week's St. Joseph Village Board meeting.

When he started the organization, Wasson said, he was driving through Oakwood on his motorcycle and saw a sign honoring Army Maj. David L. Audo, a University of Illinois graduate from St. Joseph who died in 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq.

Wasson thought Audo should have had a sign honoring him in his hometown.

The signs are made with a flag background and a yellow ribbon. The signs will state the soldiers name and the branch of the military they serve in. The signs are placed around St. Joseph on power polls.

"We need to let people know it is still going on," Wasson said.

The signs are free of charge for residents of St. Joseph currently serving in the military.

St. Joseph residents who have family members from other towns or states serving in the military can also order signs. However, those signs will cost $50, Wasson said.

To submit a name for a sign, email Wasson at wazzman@live.com or call him at 217-649-7147. Include the soldier's name and branch of service.

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