Oconto, Wis. (WFRV) – Carl Plaster has a passion project. Honoring veterans of past and present in Oconto County. But his story starts long before that.

“I had military in my family, and I believed in what they were doing in defending our country, and I wanted to join up and go. That’s why I did it,” Plaster said.

Plaster was just a sixteen-year-old living in Virginia when he decided to join the Army back in 1971.

But his expectations to go to Vietnam were cut short, once it was discovered that Plaster wasn’t yet 18.

“The following year, they took 45 of us and shipped us to Korea to be with the 32nd Infantry Division, and we trained there and also went to the DMZ and did duty up there,” he said.

Plaster got out in ’74, and eventually made his way to Oconto, and to several of the veterans groups in the city.

“Everybody works together, everybody is a team, it kind of reminds you back when you were in the military. It was nice being back, and you can talk with people about your service, where you’ve been, what you’ve done. And they understand about the military,” he said.

One of those groups is the Oconto County Veteran’s Memorial Corp., a group formed with the soul purpose of bringing a memorial to the city, to honor all of Oconto County’s veterans.

You might remember, Plaster isn’t even from Oconto County, but he feels it’s now his duty to remember those fellow veterans who are.

“That’s why that’s so important to put them out there, honor them, put them on the wall forever. Their life will always be there, their name will never be forgotten, and it’s to show that our military takes care of us, and no one should ever forget that,” he said.

The Oconto County Veteran’s Memorial will take a few more years to complete, but Plaster hopes its message will echo on in the community for decades to come.

“(I hope people) take pride in what they see, how these people were involved. When they walk up to that back wall and they see all those names, take pride in the men and women that served, that were there to dedicate their life to the country, for their county, for their towns, and the people that they know. They gave up a lot to go do that,” said Plaster.

If you’d like to donate to the Oconto County Veterans Memorial, or help with the project, visit this page.