Hometown Hero: Steve Conto

By Terry Kovarik | terry.kovarik@wearegreenbay.com

Published 06/27 2014 09:14AM

Updated 06/27 2014 06:56PM

BROWN COUNTY (WFRV) Steve Conto has covered a lot of ground over the past 12-years. Sacred ground. He's made his way through numerous cemeteries as part of a personal mission to honor Wisconsin veterans from a prior war.

"I met a lot of Vietnam veterans. Some of the same guys I met when I first joined the navy and they became more of a big brother to me," Conto said.

Conto retired after 22-years in the U.S. Navy. When the movie "We Were Soldiers" was released, he decided to search records for the resting places of fallen Wisconsin men whose names were on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

"There were some that were missing. They didn't have a record on them," Conto said. "Some of the obituaries didn't have it. So then I had to start doing further research from family members and friends."

Conto's search went from the Fox Cities to Green Bay to the Eighth Congressional District to all of WIsconsin and other states. All along the way, he documented nearly 800 grave sites. He created stories and poems based on stories from family and friends. He then created a spread sheet, which he named "The Final Bridge".

"I felt it was just as hallowed ground from the wall to where their burial site is and it should be taken care of just the same," Conto said.

Some of the resting places Conto visited were hard to find. Grave markers had become hidden by grass, leaves and other debris. When needed, he cleaned up each site and thoroughly documented the location.

"I've got it pinpointed down to the compass. Northeast section, central section, the name of the section, column and row," Conto said.

"The Final Bridge" is now an officially recognized resource book by Wisconsin's Department of Veterans Affairs museum. It's being used by county veterans service officers and everyone who, like Steve Conto, wants Wisconsin's fallen Vietnam vets to be remembered.

"They have a story to tell. And they should be remembered and their sites should be respected and taken care of," Conto said.

        Steve Conto continues looking information or relatives of two Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans: Johnny Lee Webb of Milwaukee, originally from Vance Missisippi, and Terrence Sund Of Menominee Falls.
If you have information, please send it along to tips@wearegreenbay.com

Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story.

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