Edwardsville Ryan Garbs Gold Star Memorial
U S Army U S Air Force U S Marines U S Navy

A Letter From Douglas and Jill Garbs

In regards to the Ryan Garbs Gold Star Memorial Monument dedicated on April 21, 2012 in downtown Edwardsville City Park.

On February 18, 2007, our son, US Army Ranger Spc. Ryan C. Garbs was killed in action in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, while on a Special Operations mission. The residents and officials of Edwardsville and the surrounding communities were extremely supportive and very compassionate during our family crisis. Many people we didn't even know came to our aid and lent assistance, and for that we are eternally grateful.

During the aftermath I heard many suggestions about some kind of memorial, and several came to be: the "Butterfly Garden" erected at Edwardsville High School, a Memorial Bench at EHS Softball Field, a Dog Walking Trail at the Metro East Humane Society, and a tree planted with a plaque honoring Ryan at Edwardsville City Park. All of these are wonderful, and we are honored by them.

Edwardsville native USMC 1LT. David A. Boyle was my college days dirt-bike motorcycling pal. After graduation he joined the Marines and became a helicopter pilot. He died April 27, 1983, when the helicopter he piloted experienced failure and crashed into the sea off the coast of Virginia Beach. He gave his life to save his crew. His parents came to Ryan's visitation at Weber & Rodney Funeral Home. We hugged, and the idea of some monument to these fine young men that died while in military service was born.

We had no idea how many names from the Greater Edwardsville Region would be listed, or even what the Greater Edwardsville Region was. Researching Edwardsville Intelligencer archive microfilm at Edwardsville Public Library and information gleaned at the Madison County Historical Museum helped clarify that. By the beginning of the 20th century, Edwardsville was the hub of a large agricultural network that included many small farming communities and villages; the current Edwardsville Community School District boundary roughly approximates that area of influence and includes, Glen Carbon, Hamel, Worden, Moro, Midway, Holiday Shores, Dorsey, Carpenter and Edwardsville.

There are several monuments already in existence commemorating soldiers from the 18th & 19th century conflicts, but none from the era of modern warfare, 1900 to present. There were wooden billboard-type monuments erected after World Wars I & II, naming all the area soldiers that served and those that did not return. Those memorials have long since rotted away, and all that remains are old photographs reprinted in a book: "Edwardsville, An Illustrated History".

We found remarkable and tragic stories of these young men. Edwardsville native US Army Staff Sergeant Roland W. Bauer (who sent letters home that were reprinted in the Intelligencer) fought Japanese soldiers hand-to-hand. Two Hamel brothers, US Army Private Heinrich W. and Mess Sergeant August H. Hellman died on the same day, October 11, 1918 in different parts of the world. Glen Carbon resident Air Force Private First Class David L. Sotl was stationed at Pensacola Air Base in Florida in 1951 and drowned while swimming in the ocean with his newlywed bride. And Worden resident and E.H.S. star football player and student USMC 2LT. Melvin Colclasure was killed when his plane crashed in North Carolina. There are seventy-six more stories.

We built a memorial of granite and bronze to honor these brave men, all of whom died while in military service, so that we will always remember their sacrifice. We were granted permission by the Edwardsville City Council to erect this monument in Edwardsville City Park, in the center of the city that all these men called home.

The monument is constructed of 2 wings of Barre Gray Granite and a central Waussau Red Granite tablet that backs a Barre Gray Granite pedestal supporting a bronze bust of a soldier. The bronze bust is modeled after Ryan, but the name on the pocket tab reads "OURSON", so that if anyone asks, it is any of the 81 men that are listed. Each listing includes, Branch of Service, Rank, Full Name, Date of Birth and Date of Death. A quote from President Lincoln is engraved on the pedestal and the commemorative is engraved on the central tablet

Donations are being accepted for the Ryan Garbs Gold Star Memorial Scholarship Fund and can be made out to Edwardsville Community Foundation. Please mail contributions to, E.C.F., P.O. Box 102, Edwardsville, IL 62025. Make a notation on checks that the donation is for the Ryan Garbs Memorial.
The Edwardsville Community Foundation is a charitable trust that receives, manages, and distributes tax deductible, charitable contributions for the benefit of the greater Edwardsville area and its residents.

Contributions made to the foundation are tax deductible and contributors will receive an acknowledgment letter for tax purposes.

For additional information regarding this foundation, visit www.edwardsvillefoundation.org.

Douglas & Jill Garbs

Email this Page