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Memorial service set at the mall

September 5, 2013

Mike Tarpley places flags over the names of Howard County servicemen who have been killed in action since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The seventh annual 9/11 memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Spring Town Plaza (formerly Big Spring Mall). (HERALD photo/Steve Reagan)

Ever since the horrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, Howard County residents have answered the call of duty —and some have even paid “the last full measure of devotion” — for their country.

As they have for the past seven years, area residents will gather to remember Howard County servicemen who have fallen during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The “Memorial at the Plaza,” set for 5 p.m. Sept. 11 at Spring Town Plaza (formerly Big Spring Mall), will honor not only local servicemen, but all those lost in the terror attacks of 12 years ago, organizers said.

The memorial will be held at the section of the mall which is adorned with the names of Howard County servicemen who have been killed in action since the 9/11 attacks — Army personnel Clayton Henson, Christian Menchaca, Robert Volker, Clinton Newman, Ellory Wallace, Braden Long and Conrad Alvarez, along with U.S. Marine Chad Metcalf and former Big Spring police officer Steven Evard, who was providing private security services in Iraq when he was killed.

Local veteran Mike Tarpley is the driving force behind the event. He has adorned the section of the mall with large wooden ribbons dedicated to each of the fallen.

“We talked about (originally) having a ceremony at Hangar 25 (Air Museum), but then someone suggested we have it here at the mall,” Tarpley said. “It's just grown and grown over the years. The community has responded really well to it.”

This year's guest speaker will be Mike Meinen, a U.S. Army veteran who lost a leg during a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Iraq. Special music will be provided by the group “Tributary,” which will sing the national anthem, “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace.”

For more information, contact Tarpley at 432-556-2227.

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