Clint Brumitt, a retired schoolteacher who grew up in Bend, occasionally visits the Central Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Bend’s Deschutes Memorial Gardens cemetery to reminisce about old friends who were killed in the war.
He recognizes the names of old classmates on the memorial. One was a catcher on his Little League team. Another was a teammate on the Central Oregon Community College basketball team.
On a visit to the memorial a few years ago, Brumitt discovered a name was missing. He couldn’t find his childhood friend, Mike Barrow, who grew up in Prineville and played with Brumitt on a local American Legion baseball team in the summer of 1962.
“In taking a moment to remember those I knew, I realized that Mike’s name was not on the monument,” Brumitt said. “That started a multiyear search to make it happen.”
That three-year search ended last week, when Barrow’s name was etched on a plaque and added to the monument, just in time for Memorial Day. But adding his name was a long process that took the help of old friends and classmates who remembered Barrow’s ties to Central Oregon.
Brumitt, who retired to Eugene after a 34-year teaching career in Southern Oregon, initially did some research and found Barrow was a Portland resident when he was drafted into the Vietnam War, so his military records did not make it obvious he should be honored in Central Oregon.
“He had changed his draft board to Portland,” Brumitt said. “So in essence, his connection to Crook County was gone.”
Brumitt went to find proof of Barrow’s connection to Prineville and contacted another old friend, Bob Claypool, who graduated from Crook County High School with Barrow in 1963.
Claypool, a retired housing supervisor at Southern Oregon University who lives in the tiny Jackson County town of Talent, still had his 1963 class yearbook that was full of photos of Barrow, including a photo of Barrow on the school’s football team.
Last fall, Claypool went to his 55th high school class reunion and told the 30 classmates in attendance about the effort to get Barrow’s name on the local monument. Two of the classmates had contact information for Barrow’s older sister, Mary Gail Barrow, who lives in Portland and gave her blessing to have her brother’s name added to the monument.
It was a successful step forward, Claypool said.
“We were always all good friends,” Claypool said of his high school class. “You don’t find that with a lot of classes. We always took care of each other in some way.”
The final hurdle to honor Barrow was to fundraise $457.50, the cost of creating a plaque with Barrow’s name to be attached to the monument.
Claypool sent letters to the 84 remaining members of the 1963 classes asking for a small donation for the project.
“Within three days we had more than we needed for the plaque,” Claypool said.
A total of 24 classmates contributed money, and the remaining funds are being saved for future events for the class, he said.
The classmates are planning to meet sometime in June or July to have a ceremony at the memorial to honor Barrow.
Before being drafted into the Vietnam War, Barrow was a three-sport athlete in high school. He excelled in baseball, basketball and football. He went on to play baseball and football at Linfield College in McMinnville. He was also remembered as an excellent student.
In 2011, Linfield College named a room in its Nicholson Library the Mike Barrow Study Room.
Barrow, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, was 23 when he was killed on June 23, 1969.
His name is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., among roughly 58,000 other names.
Brumitt said he hates to have lost friends like Barrow in Vietnam and is reminded of the ugliness of war when he sees the names listed on memorials. But those monuments are an important way to remember the sacrifice. And now Central Oregon residents can honor one of their own when they see Barrow’s name on the local memorial, he said.
“Every veteran should be recognized,” Brumitt said. “It’s nice to get him on the Central Oregon wall as well.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, firstname.lastname@example.org