Throughout history, and still today, there have been ordinary individuals who rose from the fields of Oklahoma to give their lives for this country. All of them gave something and some of them gave everything. There is no greater devotion. To ensure preservation and growth, we must first appreciate freedom for what it is now, remembering every day that freedom is not automatic; it has been earned, by others, and should be cherished by us today.
With no official veterans park in Enid, a group of "Airport Bums and a Blonde" discussed what to do with two static aircraft that had become part of Woodring Airport. The group, over coffee in the breakroom of Northwest Aero Services, a local aviation company, talked about renovating the aircraft that had been acquired by the airport manager. several years past An idea was thrown out to begin a campaign to enhance the entrance to the airport by placing the aircraft on static display. From there the project evolved into securing granite stones bearing the names of our local veterans and starting a veterans park. With the idea that two stones marking the entrance to the airport on the front with veterans names on the back would be an added enhancement, names poured in and quickly increased to four stones at a cost of $25,000 each.
Thus, The Woodring Wall of Honor began as a Make a Difference Day Project on October 23, 1999 as renovation began on an F-4C Phantom. On Memorial Day, 2000 the park was dedicated to area veterans and the Enid community. The park includes heritage nose art from WWII to present day Iraq painted by local artist, Charlotte Johns and Vance Air Force Base Airmen, Matthew Franchetti. A gazebo was built by Cummins Construction and Vance AFB IFT Airmen and was dedicated in honor of Bob Cummins, one of the members of the "Airport Bums and the Blonde." It is used for special services, picnics, birthday parties, reunions and weddings.
The park continued to evolve adding two additional stones and continued to host services, ceremonies and events.
In early 2003 a Garden of Remembrance was built by the Enid Civitan Club, and was dedicated to those lives affected by terrorism and hosted a rose garden which was highlighted by the Statue of Liberty and pieces of granite from the Murrah Building. The garden was removed recently in preparation for a future capital campaign project. The focus of the west side of the park is the 4’ x 8’ natural Oklahoma granite stones which bear the names of over 4000 of Oklahoma’s finest veterans and heroes.
On Memorial Day of 2003, a segment of the ceremony included the recognition of three of Oklahoma's fallen heroes from the War on Terrorism. The names of Rick Husband, NASA astronaut (who took his flight training at Vance AFB, Enid, OK), Tommy Blair, Tulsa resident, KIA Iraq, and Jerod Dennis, Idabel resident, KIA Afghanistan, were engraved on the wall. Their families traveled to Enid to be a part of the Memorial Day Ceremonies to view the dedication of the stone which honored their nephew and sons. Families are honored with presentations and special ceremonies to recognize the service and sacrifices of their loved ones. Since that date, over 200 Oklahomans have been honored during our Memorial Day Ceremonies. Because of our efforts, the families began the Gold Star Support Group of Oklahoma. We pray for the day we don't have families to invite to our Memorial Day Ceremonies any longer.
Events began around our services which include the Red Dirt Run of Honor 5K/Half Marathon run to remember the fallen of Oklahoma and active duty service men & women. The Legacy Award Ceremony honors statewide veterans for their service to our country. We host poster & essay contests for students, day camps, educational school tours, and Memorial Day and Veteran's Day services and other events that bring honor to the fallen and service of the veterans of Oklahoma.
Our addition of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in 2013 was a $1MM project which allows us the opportunity to provide hands on history lessons about the Vietnam War to the general public, schools and modern day veterans. We have educational materials already in place in anticipation of the tours we will be providing and will have all the literature available for download from our web site for teachers. Having the Educational Center and programs allows us to provide positive solutions for those who visit. Students will leave the park with more knowledge of the sacrifices of our veterans and have a positive outlook on the Vietnam War, the unpopular conflict.
In 2017, we built and dedicated a 3500 sq. ft. Educational Center which houses an art gallery, library and museum. We have one of the most premier collections of 1st edition WWII books in the State of Oklahoma due to a generous donation from a professor from UCO. An extensive collection of heritage aircraft replicas to include; the WWII aircraft carrier USS Hornet, the USS Arizona, replica aircraft, ground pounding equipment and other memorabilia, all donated by Kenneth Marshall. We have another portion of that collection on display in the Jet Museum which is near Kenny’s hometown of Nescatunga.
The Woodring Wall of Honor and Veteran’s Park story line is the guiding vision for the design of the park: “All gave some…Some gave all, they left their families and homes with purpose to serve our Country … and the people of Enid, Oklahoma honor their service and welcome you home.” You can see it’s beginning to reach our goals of education as you see more and more groups showing patriotism and honor to our veterans. Civitan and Ambuc’s flags in residences and businesses, the veterans banners put up in the downtown square, the flag display by the Stride Bank Center and now the flags that will be on the new overpass in the north park of our community.
Our primary goal is to reflect the “Veteran’s Journey: life before, during, and after service”. Veteran’s need rebirth and healing. Our park provides that. This park represents redevelopment of the entry of the airport, and is an opportunity to be a key revitalization component for Enid. For those flying into Enid for business will marvel at the beauty of the walls and mission. It will be the first and last impression of our community. It will show that Enid cares about its military and fallen. The goal is to build a park that is designed for reflection and celebration – with bold, unique, and captivating exhibits – including the replica of the Vietnam Wall, Oklahoma’s official Vietnam War Monument. It is a place where veterans can gather…and where every visitor can share the moving tribute of a grateful state, honoring those to whom our nation owes its freedom.
We will address the needs of veterans through the exhibits, programs and events held at the Woodring Wall of Honor. This park is designed to serve a variety of purposes – as a regional and national attraction, a city park, and Educational Center, and a distinctive setting for military ceremonies. The Wooding Wall of Honor acknowledges that the Educational Center and library will be helpful in directing teachers, veterans and home school educators to resources and materials. The target groups for this project are veterans, parents, educators and children in the State of Oklahoma. Locally, there are approximately 15,167 students enrolled in the elementary, secondary and private schools. We have the ability to work with community relations directors for the school districts, and a sizable audience is anticipated for internet training, educational tours and summer programs through our partnership with the Educational Center in Washington DC.
In 2022 we secured a large collection of military memorabilia including aircraft, helicopters, cockpits, tanks, combat vehicles, weapons, trucks, medical vehicles, uniforms and other related artifacts from all eras of war. Because of this acquisition, we can no longer house all the historical items in our current location. Our upcoming goals include a capital campaign to enlarge or build a large facility and turn our current location into a multi-purpose educational center.
So we’re more than just a “veterans park” here in Enid. We are becoming the “go to organization” or advocates for veterans in NW Oklahoma. Even the Governor’s office has called for information on the fallen from our facility. We assist veterans and family members with VA Benefit applications, host modelers clubs, 4-H groups, and can provide a great cultural place for private small group offsite business meetings. We have had numerous holiday parties and smaller events in the past but have now quickly outgrown our facility. Our museum is filled with aircraft cockpits and memorabilia. We receive donations of uniforms, photos, memory books and artifacts to enhance and grow our collection.
So our next goal is to build a new museum!