Joe Mullins, sexton at Fountain Park Cemetery, called Fred Davis last week to come to the cemetery to meet someone.
When Davis arrived in Section 5 at the cemetery, he found a trailer with “Mission Restore” decals on it. Mullins introduced Davis to a Vietnam Veteran named Rick Brown from Greenfield, Indiana who heads up Mission Restore for Central Indiana.
Mission Restore Bronze is a volunteer organization started in 2014 by Tom Pawlak, who has privately restored military markers for more than 30 years. He created Mission Restore to teach others how to care for veterans’ grave markers and to honor those who have given their lives in service to our nation.
As part of Mission Restore, Brown travels across the state restoring grave markers of women and men who served our country. According to Brown, “Somebody needs to pay respect. It is important to show that they’re not forgotten. Veterans need to be respected on both sides of the dirt.”
Brown has been restoring graves and markers in Indiana for about 2 years. He has restored roughly 200 and has a goal to restore 1,000 by the end of 2018. He said, “You just can’t forget what these people did for America ...and I’m not about to.”
Brown, who is disabled due to a car accident in 1969, was awarded the, “Disabled Vet” of the year in 2017.
He is currently trying to raise funds to purchase a trailer that would allow him to travel the state restoring graves and markers as part of Mission Restore. A $25.00 donation will refinish three bronze markers or two stone markers.
Brown came to Fountain Park cemetery to clean and restore the marker of Private Clinton L. Armstrong. Armstrong was a Civil War soldier in the 83rd Indiana Volunteers and a Medal of Honor recipient who was awarded for gallantry during the Siege of Vicksburg. He was part of what was called a “forlorn hope,” a force made up of only single men committing themselves to a mission that was tantamount to suicide.
One hundred and fifty men led a frontal assault on May 22, 1863 on the Confederate position known as the Stockade Redan and were pinned down in a ditch, distracting the enemy while the main body led a flanking maneuver to attack from the rear. Of the 150 men in Armstrong’s group, nearly half died. Ten survivors were awarded the Medal of Honor for their selfless actions that day.
Armstrong survived the battle, though he was shot twice and dragged himself back to friendly lines after darkness fell. After the War, Armstrong studied medicine and became a renowned surgeon for the Cincinnati Police Force. He died in 1899.
This is the grave marker that Brown was at Fountain Park Cemetery to clean and restore, honoring this hero and reminding us all of the sacrifices that so many have made and continue to make.
If you would like to make a donation, you can send a check to Mission Restore Bronze Central Indiana at P.O. Box 603, Greenfield, Indiana 46140 or contact Rick Brown at his facebook page at www.facebook.com/rickbrown47/.
As of July 4, 2015 over 3,150 volunteers in 48 states polished and restored, with their own funds, tarnished Bronze Military grave markers at no charge whatsoever to the family.