Sandblaster Greg Gnos of OM Stone in Hillsboro takes his job seriously.
Recently, he made sure two new names being added at Timber-Linn Memorial Park were spot-on level. Then he sandblasted Sidney Montgomery’s name onto the World War I plaque and Charles William Crocker Jr.'s name onto the one for the Korean War. And in a show of respect for all of the honored veterans, Gnos diligently cleaned each of the granite slabs and swept away any debris caused by the sandblasting.
The new names were added by the Linn County Veterans Memorial Association.
According to association president Randy Martinak, Cpl. Sidney Montgomery was killed in France on Oct. 8, 1918, just one month before World War I ended. The 20-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs J.A. Montgomery of Oakville served with Company A, 26th Infantry. He was Albany’s first WWI casualty.
Montgomery's name and photo are included in the Soldiers of the Great War casualty listing by state. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery.
Sgt. William Crocker Jr. was an aircraft gunner with the 343rd Bomb Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, which was shot down June 1, 1951, during the Korean War. (Crocker was born on July 14, 1925, and had also served in World War II, from June 1944 to June 1946.)
According to service records, Crocker was a scanner on a B-29 piloted by Captain Robert Fredericksen of Black Diamond, Washington. The plane had flown from Yokota Air Base, Japan, to take part in a mission to bomb rail bridges in the Chongju area of North Korea. About 20 miles northwest of Pyongyang, the plane was struck by enemy fire and went into a flat spin at 18,000 feet.
Four parachutes were seen deploying from the plane before it exploded. Four crew members are believed to have been captured by the North Koreans.
In an April 10, 1954, letter to Charles Wilson, the Secretary of Defense, Crocker’s parents, Charles and Esther Crocker of Corvallis, wrote that they had seen a photo of their son in a newspaper, playing chess as a prisoner of war.
“Chess was one of his favorite games and he always sat in that position with a smile on his face,” they noted.
But military officials were skeptical.
“It is always a matter of conjecture whether such a photograph is actually as it represented or whether it originated in some little known publication many months previous and was merely re-released by the enemy for propaganda purposes,” wrote Major General USAF/Director of Military Personnel John McCormick.
Crocker left behind a widow, Roberta Vale Crocker. They did not have children. On Feb. 3, 1954, his family was notified that his status had been changed from missing in action to deceased.
During his years of service, Crocker received Air, American Campaign, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, Good Conduct and Victory medals.
His occupation before World War II was listed as farm hand. Before he was recalled to service in Korea, he was a “fish hatcheryman” for the Oregon State Game Commission and worked at the Alsea trout hatchery.
After being recalled, a military evaluator noted, “I don’t think that he needs to attend gunnery school again. He needs more practical experience. He knows the gun and turret.”
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