News Release April 22, 2019
BOB OSMOND,VIETNAM MEMORIAL PROJECT CHAIR, TO BE INDUCTED IN MCHS WALL OF FAME
Midwest City High School Visionaries: Bob Osmond (seated right), Class of 1964, chair of the Midwest City High School Vietnam Memorial and Bomber Plaza, and his wife Diane Houseberg Osmond, Class of 1964, enjoy the memorial dedication on November 11, 2018, with Damon Wingfield, Class of 1949 (the seventh graduating class), a Vietnam veteran and member of the Midwest City High School Wall of Fame. Osmond will be inducted in the MCHS Wall of Fame on April 30, 2019. Wingfield was the alumnus who conceived of establishing the history museum for Midwest City High School (seen in background). He chaired the founding committee and was first president of the museum board in 2001. His sister, Karen Wingfield Strickland, is a member of the Class of 1964. (Photo by Barbara Winn Sessions)
By Barbara Winn Sessions, Class of 1964 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Midwest City, OK - April 22, 2019) — The ’64 Bombers are celebrating news that classmate Robert A. “Bob” Osmond will be inducted in the Midwest City High School Wall of Fame on April 30, 2019, in the school cafeteria. Osmond is chair of the MCHS Vietnam Memorial & Bomber Plaza, which opened on school grounds on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2018.
For four years, Osmond engaged in the design, marketing, fundraising, construction, and dedication activities, as he chaired the memorial committee made up of representatives from his class and other 1960s classes.
One of the proudest achievements in Midwest City’s military history, the $250,000 project – all donor-financed – is a lasting tribute to the 22 former MCHS students who died in Vietnam and to all other armed forces veterans.
“The high point to me was seeing the turnout for the dedication ceremony,” Osmond said. “Watching everyone enjoying the unveiling of the memorial and listening to comments of other veterans about what it means to them, and, hopefully, what it means to MCHS alumni, staff, and future generations of Bombers. When people tell me they would compare the MCHS Vietnam Memorial and Bomber Plaza to the ones in Washington, D.C., that means a lot to me and I am proud to have had a hand in building it.”
At the 50th reunion in 2014, the Class of 1964 conceived of the Vietnam Memorial project. Classmate Tony Callaway, a career architect in Dallas and a Vietnam veteran, gifted his design and drawings of the beautiful granite and brick memorial and plaza, positioning it squarely in front of the Midwest City High School History Center and on the path students follow when entering school grounds from the bus stop.
The 22 Midwest City High School students killed in action in Vietnam are pictured and written about on individual upright granite tablets. Hundreds more military veterans are honored in inscribed bricks, purchased by admirers, and embedded in the Bomber Plaza. Separate markers honor alumni who died in the Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing of 1995 and in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Additional space has been set aside to honor future students. Daily, the Midwest City High School Junior ROTC cleans the grounds and polishes the granite markers – another detail Osmond incorporated into the project. The elegant, tree-lined memorial is lighted and has bench seating to welcome visitors day and night. The address is 213 Elm St., on the school’s south side, in front of the Midwest City High School History Center.
Wall of Fame, established in 1992, is the highest honor of Midwest City High School. Plaques of awardees are exhibited in the lobby of the school’s performing arts center. Osmond’s plaque will cite his leadership on the memorial project and his career in law enforcement.
After U.S. Army service and college, he served his hometown from 1974-2001 on the Midwest City Police Department, rising to the rank of captain and commander of the field operations bureau. Osmond received numerous department honors, including the Medal of Merit, for performance as an officer and a supervisor.
He served policing in Oklahoma for 10 years as executive officer of the Regional Organized Crime Information Center, and he helped establish and is a past president of the Association of Oklahoma Narcotic Officers. In the community, Osmond is past president of the American Cancer Society, Eastern Oklahoma County Unit, and the MCHS Soccer Booster Club. He graduated from leadership class 1992 of the Midwest City Chamber of Commerce.
Osmond’s induction will take place at the school’s annual 4.0/Wall of Fame Banquet. Only straight “A” students and their families, and Wall of Fame members and their guests are invited. Also at the banquet on April 30, Larry Murphy, Class of 1970, will be inducted in the Wall of Fame. Murphy spent his career in the Mid-Del System as a teacher, coach, and leader of the alternative academy. Special Recognition will be given to Rick Croslin, a former MCHS principal.
Osmond will join five other members of the Class of 1964 in the Midwest City High School Wall of Fame: Barbara Winn Sessions, inducted in 1994; David Guthery, inducted in 1995; Jim Willis, inducted in 1999; and Larry Burchart and Tony Callaway, both inducted in 2002.
Osmond worked tirelessly on the memorial campaign, and he kept everyone on the committee upbeat and focused on the dream they all had. “I always believed in the project and in myself. I felt like no matter how many times I got turned down when asking for money or writing various grants that the project was worthwhile and no one could stop me from achieving the goal of building a lasting tribute to the sacrifices of those students who gave their all so that we could live in a free country,” Osmond said.
“He overcame all obstacles. He paid attention to every detail. He accomplished the goal he expressed to us from the beginning — ‘to lift the 22 fallen heroes up to a place of prominence,’” said committee member Chaniece Kennedy Harkey, Class of 1964. She joined with Linda Stell Smith, Class of 1966, in writing a few examples of their chairman’s “can-do manner.”
“Bob sought contributions every waking hour and never stopped until the Dedication Ceremony. He gave speeches at Kiwanis and Rotary club meetings, retired police officer meetings, car rallies and various other community events – anywhere he could get an audience. He always carried flyers and left them all over town from nail salons to restaurants. He was relentless in his efforts to spread the word and garner donations.
“He wanted to have a website on the internet. To save the project money, he spent many hours with the help of a domain assistance program building the site, https://bombervietnammemorial.org. He made a promotional video with great photos and found someone with drones to capture the workings of the project from the beginning of construction. Bob was able to get contractors to donate their time and expertise. Once construction started, he was first to arrive and last to leave every day. When construction issues arose, Bob was on top of it all by finding ways to resolve them.”
The Mid-Del School Board endorsed the memorial and regularly was updated on progress. No school funds were expended. The City of Midwest City made a $90,000 pledge through the Midwest City Hospital Authority grants program that jump-started an equal amount of community fundraising. The gift followed a moving City Council meeting on February 27, 2018, at which Mayor Matt Dukes, Council Member Pat Byrne and others described the loss of loved ones in Vietnam, their own military service, and a need to honor Vietnam veterans in a way that had been absent at the time of their service.
Gold-level giving sponsors included Osmond and his wife, Diane, John Hill, Guthery Family, Clark Construction, John Williams, Hudiburg Auto Group, Bratcher Construction, Roger Brady, Tony Callaway, Tony’s Tree Plantation, Gary and Cindy Weese, Breeden Painting, Rick McElreath, and Dave and Robin Herbert.
Black-level giving sponsors were Tinker Federal Credit Union, Ray Williams, James Bennett, Tom Stidham, Golden Palace, Barnes Friederich Funeral Home, Arvest Foundation, and J. Mike Hunter.
The one-hour Dedication Ceremony in the school’s performing arts center on November 11, 2018, brought together the best of city, school, veterans, and alumni. Midwest City High School ROTC Unit OK931 provided a color guard. The MCHS band, directed by John Davis, played the National Anthem and a medley of service songs. Air Force Brigadier General (ret) Victor Schwanbeck, Class of 1962, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Air Force General (ret) Roger Brady, Class of 1964, gave the keynote speech.
A three-member Midwest City Police Honor Guard in dress uniform presented a 20-minute exposition called, “Evolution of the Flag.” Two officers slowly un-scrolled an American flag while the narrating officer explained the meaning of each stripe (representing the 13 colonies, in the order in which they signed the U.S. Constitution), the field of blue, the stars, and concluding with a tribute to those who carried the flag in defense of the United States around the world. Osmond had witnessed the program at a police convention and brought it back to his department.
Outside the performing arts center, a large contingent of motorcycle Patriot Guard Riders and Faith Riders aligned their bikes across the entrance and held open the doors for the audience estimated at 1,000-1,100 people. Later they assisted in unveiling the granite markers of the 22 fallen Bombers. Callaway, Osmond, Mid-Del Superintendent Dr. Rick Cobb, and Mayor Dukes cut the ribbon on the MCHS Vietnam Memorial and Bomber Plaza.
On the memorial committee were Gayle Guffey Wallis, Class of 1961; Keith Simpson, Class of 1962; Dave Herbert and Charles Sharp, Class of 1963; Garry Avery, Tony Callaway, Chaniece Kennedy Harkey, Miles Houseberg, Jr., and Bob Osmond, Class of 1964; Ralph Woodrum, Class of 1965; David Miles and Linda Stell Smith, Class of 1966; John Laakman and John Whetsel, Class of 1967; Suzi Kaiser Byrne, Mike Chase, and Walta Rollin, Class of 1968; and Charlene Marino Prater, Class of 1970.
The Wall of Honor at the memorial, comprised of former Midwest City High School students who died in Vietnam includes: Rex B. Freeman, Class of 1953; Allen P. Miller, Class of 1960; Donald L. Bernard, Class of 1963; Edward G. Baker, James L. Eatmon, John K. Johnson, and James “Delton” Moffett, Class of 1964; Larry L. Riley, Lawrence S. Robbins, and Sammy R. Smith, Class of 1965; Benjamin F. Bolding, Randell H. Burnsed, Stephen R. Costello, Stephen S. Donahue, Michael R. Finerty, James D. Guffey, and Randall L. McElreath, Class of 1966; Jerry A. Kiser and Kenneth W. Skinner, Class of 1967; Ronald C. High, Albin L. Kendall, and Jimmy D. Sanders, Class of 1968.
The Honor Roll at the memorial includes Paul D. Ice, Class of 1970; and Kimberly K. Clark and Kathy L. Seidl, Class of 1974, all of whom died in the Murrah Building Bombing; and Lance M. Chase, Class of 1991, who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Born in Cushing on August 6, 1946, to Robert B. and Enna C. Osmond, Robert Alan Osmond moved with his family to Midwest City in 1951, when his father took a job as a civilian worker at Tinker Air Force Base. Bob attended Country Estates Grade School, Monroney Junior High School, and MCHS, graduating with the Class of 1964. A sister, Enna Mae Osmond Wilbur, now deceased, graduated in 1963, and a brother, Larry, graduated in 1967.
Osmond began dating Diane Houseberg, Class of 1964, after high school. In June they will celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary. Diane’s brother, Myles Houseberg, Jr., also graduated in 1964. Bob and Diane raised two children, Curtis, a 1989 graduate, and Kimberlie Lynn Osmond Iley, a member of the Class of 1991. She lives in Choctaw with her husband Brian Iley and teaches third grade at Ridgecrest Elementary. Curtis and his wife, Shawn, live in Austin with their children Olivia, 15, and Jake, 13.
Bob and Diane live on Pearson Drive in Midwest City.
The MCHS Museum Vietnam Memorial Project, a 501(c) (3) organization, welcomes your donation. Go online to https://bombervietnammemorial.org to buy a challenge coin or an inscribed paver or brick. Call (405) 642-0277 for more information.
MCHS Museum Vietnam Memorial Project Donate Tax-Deductible at P.O.Box 30793, Midwest City, OK 73140, (405) 642-0277 https://bombervietnammemorial.org