MSHS continues to remember the fallen
October 2, 2008 · Updated 10:32 AM
On Sept. 8, 1967, an American flag and memorial were installed at the end of the football field at Mount Si High School to honor three of the school's alumni who had fallen during the Vietnam War. The memorial included a white-stone flagpole base that bore a plaque with the names of the three men: Donald 'Bud' G. Davenport, Class of 1959; Bob Montgomery, Class of 1965; and Ronald 'Ron' A. Johnson, Class of 1965.
The memorial was created with money received by the family of Bob Montgomery after he was killed in Vietnam, along with funds raised by the high school and community at the time, and is intended to bear the names of any Mount Si graduates killed while serving their country during any war. The three men killed in Vietnam are the only Mount Si graduates who have died in battle since the school was officially designated.
Last year, when the new sports complex opened at the high school and the ground was raised, the memorial was moved and many of those involved with the original memorial project thought a newer, taller flagpole would better suit the memorial.
With money left over from the original memorial fund, along with donations from the VFW and the Mount Si High School Alumni Association, a new 45-foot pole will be installed at the memorial within the next few weeks. The alumni association is accepting donations to pay for its portion of the project.
Fred Lawrence, who went to high school with Davenport and was the track coach for Johnson and Montgomery, helped come up with the idea for the original monument and is playing a role in the pole's upgrade.
"The flagpole is out of balance to the height of the stadium and the surrounding buildings," Lawrence said. "You can't see what's happening until it gets up over the concession stand, so I wrote a letter to the administration ... and said there was money left in the Bob Montgomery memorial fund and we should raise the flagpole."
Carl Larson, director of operations for the school district, is coordinating the project from the school's side and said the new flagpole will be up "as soon as we can possibly get it."
Donald 'Bud' G.
Class of 1950
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Davenport was killed at the age of 34 while riding in an aircraft near Phy Bai, South Vietnam, on Saturday, July 23, 1966, a week before his scheduled return home.
Davenport, a 15-year veteran of the corps, was hit by sniper fire while on duty with a 3rd Marine Division artillery unit. His brother, Francis Davenport, said the helicopter Bud was riding in didn't go down and that his brother "just happened to be sitting in the wrong spot. He was killed instantly."
According to Francis Davenport, Bud originally went down to enlist in the Navy, but the recruiter was not there. A Marine Corps recruiter was, however, so Bud ended up signing up to serve in the Marine Corps.
That was in July 1951. Bud went to boot camp, then spent about 14 months in Korea. After Korea, he was a drill instructor for two years in San Diego. Francis said he's not sure where else Bud was stationed after that, but said he went to Vietnam in 1965.
When his brother died, Francis was in the hospital getting a foot operation and said he wanted out immediately, but the doctor wouldn't let him.
In a July 27, 1966, article in The Seattle Times, Bud's wife, Phyllis, said, "He was just ready to come home after all these months. That's why it was so extra hard to take.
"We had it all planned to go to San Diego and he was going back on the drill field - but now the bottom just fell out."
Phyllis and Bud were married in 1959 and had two children, Brian and Kelli.
Francis said his brother loved to play all sports, including baseball, football and basketball.
"He was quite a pitcher in baseball," Francis said. "He wouldn't let me hit the ball because it would make him look bad. I guess it was brotherly love; he threw a nasty fast ball and he knew I couldn't hit it."
Growing up, the Davenports lived in Snoqualmie in a house the family bought in 1942. Francis and Bud had three sisters, one who is now deceased. Francis said his brother was an average student and was very serious about sports.
"Now and then some girl would catch his eye," Francis said. "And him and I used to get in a lot of scuffles."
Francis said he also remembers that his brother was a very friendly person.
"If a problem came up amongst a friend, or any person really, he would take care of it," he said.
Class of 1965
Montgomery was on a reconnaissance patrol in the Army when he was struck by hostile small arms fire and killed in Vietnam on April 2, 1967, at the age of 20.
Montgomery left for Vietnam in October 1966, one month after marrying Sharon Haag, whom he had known since grade school. Johnson was one of his best friends.
"They were just really close," Sharon, who remarried and is now Sharon Bergstrom, said of Johnson and Montgomery. "We all grew up together."
Bergstrom said she and Montgomery weren't planning to get married so quickly, but he was drafted and the Army sent him to jungle training, so he knew he would be going to Vietnam.
"He wanted to get married before he left," she said.
Montgomery was on a reconnaissance mission and the unit radioed ahead for a chopper when they neared a clearing, Bergstrom said. They were ambushed and Montgomery was killed when he tried to bring one of his fellow soldiers out of the line of fire. He was awarded the Bronze Star with the V for Valor.
In high school, Montgomery was a star fullback on the Mount Si team.
"He was a big football player," Bergstrom said. "He was also very big in track; he went to state for track."
Montgomery was well-liked by everyone, Bertstrom said.
"He was a practical joker, full of life and lots of fun," she said.
At the top of the flagpole memorial at Mount Si is Montgomery's baseball from when he was a child. It has been fiberglassed 28 times and bronzed.
Bergstrom said the memorial started because she received a lot of monetary gifts when Montgomery died.
"We had gotten quite a bit of money and I didn't feel like I needed it; the funeral was pretty much taken care of with the help of the military and I also worked," she said.
She and Fred Lawrence, who Montgomery was close to, talked about what to do with the money and Lawrence suggested a flagpole on the football field.
"We established a fund and then some of Bob's friends got together and did a community fund-raising event and that's how the Davenports got involved," Bergstrom said. "There were a lot of family and friends out there working; putting up the monument."
Ronald 'Ron' A. Johnson
Class of 1965
Ron was an Army mail courier in Vietnam and was killed on Aug. 17, 1967, at the age of 20 when the plane he was in crashed into a mountain during a monsoon in Pleiku. He was honored with the Bronze Star for "outstanding meritorious service in Vietnam."
Ron had volunteered for the mail courier job when he first arrived in Vietnam in May 1967 because he thought it would be fun, said his mom, Lois Johnson. He flew between small bases in six or seven northern towns in Vietnam.
Lois Johnson said her son was under the draft and it was "hanging over him, so he volunteered" for military service.
"He figured it was his duty," she said. "He had asthma; that's what worried me. He didn't have to go."
Lois said when her son first arrived in Vietnam, "he said the people needed us; he thought it was the right thing for him to be there. After a while, the tide changed; his idea changed about the reason for being there, but he liked what he was doing."
After the plane crash, Lois was sent a few items of Ron's that survived the crash. Among them was a camera with film in it that Lois had developed. There were several pictures of Ron and of Vietnam on the roll that she said she is grateful to have.
Ron was a lifelong North Bend resident who loved to go fishing with his dad and loved to bowl. When he was old eno