Events at RMMMH

Grand Opening Memorial Day May 26, 2003

T/4 Laverne Parrish Memorial Building

Laverne Parrish Memorial Building
Laverne Parrish Memorial Building

From this day forward the 20,000 foot display building pictured on the front of this program will be known as the T/4 Laverne Parrish Memorial Building. Parrish, from Pablo, Montana, was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Missoula, Montana in March 1941. He was posthumously awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor for the heroic rescue of his comrades under intense enemy fire which ultimately cost him his life. T/4 Parrish was one of just seven Montanans to earn this country's highest award for valor since the award was first established.

Grand Opening Exhibits at Parrish Memorial Building

"The Ultimate Sacrifice: Montanans in Battle"

"The Ultimate Sacrifice" is the theme for the Grand Opening Exhibits at the T/4 Laverne Parrish Memorial Building. Throughout the turbulent history of the United States many thousands of America's service men and women have given their lives to see that our freedom endures. The following seven individuals represent all who paid that ultimate sacrifice so that we, the living, can breathe free. Their sacrifice was great. Our duty is to always remember that sacrifice.

Among the stories featured are those of:

  • Louis Charlo of Evaro, who helped raised the first U.S. flag over Iwo Jima. Killed there one week later.
  • Laverne Parrish of Pablo who received the Medal of Honor.
  • Raymond Saunders of Billings, shot down over France.
  • Dave Stelling of Missoula, killed in an air attack over Tokyo Bay.
  • Kris Stonesifer of Missoula, the first operational casualty of the U.S. War on Terrorism.
  • Norman Streit of Missoula, killed during the Battle of the Bulge.
  • David Sullivan of Missoula, killed in action in Viet Nam.

Laverne Parrish
Laverne Parrish _ Medal of Honnor Winner - Pablo, Montana

T/4 Laverne Parrish, U.S. Army, was born in Knox City, Missouri on July 16, 1918, the son of Clatious and Weltha Parrish. He attended school at Elba, Colorado. In 1934 he came with his parents to Montana. The Parrish family was residing in Pablo, Montana where Laverne farmed with his father and worked at the Dupuis Bros. Lumber Mill. On March 5, 1941 Laverne was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Missoula. Following his training as a medical aidman at Tacoma, Washington, Parrish shipped out in December of that year with the medical detachment of the 161st Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He served in the Hawaiian Islands, Guadalcanal, New Zealand, New Georgia, New Caledonia, and the Philippine Islands. Technician Fourth Grade Parrish was killed at age 26 on 24 January 1945 at 3:30 in the afternoon in the battle for San Manuel, Luzon, the Philippine Islands.

Parrish was posthumously awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor, the highest award our Nation can bestow upon its distinguished service personnel, for his heroic actions in rescuing his comrades under intense enemy fire which ultimately cost him his life. The Medal is awarded to an individual who "in action involving actual conflict with an enemy distinguishes himself conspicuously by his gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty." His Medal Of Honor Citation is as follows:

"Technician Fourth Grade Parrish was a medical aidman with Company "C" during the fighting in Binalonan, Luzon, Philippines, on 18 and 24 January, 1945. On the 18th he observed two wounded men under enemy fire and immediately went to their rescue. After moving one to cover, he crossed twenty-five yards of open ground to administer aid to the second. In the early hours of the 24th, his company, crossing an open field near San Manuel, encountered intense enemy fire and was ordered to withdraw to cover of a ditch. While treating the casualties, Technician Parrish observed two wounded still in the field. Without hesitation he left the ditch, crawled forward under enemy fire, and in two successive trips brought both men to safety. He next administered aid to twelve casualties in the same field, crossing and recrossing the open area raked by hostile fire. Making successive trips, he then brought three wounded in to cover. After treating all of the thirty-seven casualties suffered by his company, he was mortally wounded by mortar fire and shortly after was killed. The indomitable spirit, intrepidity and gallantry of Technician Parrish saved many lives at the cost of his own."

On August 2, 1945 at 8 p.m. at a ceremony in the Ronan City Park, the Medal of Honor was presented to Sergeant Parrish's parents by Colonel A.M. Weyland, Commandant of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Missoula. He was later interred at the Mountain View Cemetery at Ronan.

PFC Louis Charlo, U.S.M.C., was born in Missoula, Montana on September 26, 1926, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He was the son of Tony Charlo of Evaro, and the Great-Grandson of Salish Chief Charlo. He enlisted in the Marines in November 1943, one month after his 17th birthday. Charlo, a radioman, was one of seven Marines who planted the first U.S. flag on top of Mt. Suribachi on February 23, 1945. The flag was taken from the attack transport USS Missoula. The Marines raised the flag on a 20-foot section of pipe at 10:20 a.m. Several hours later the second flag was raised, resulting in Associated Press Photographer Joe Rosenthal's famous photograph of the flag raising. Charlo was killed on March 2, 1945, shot in the head by a Japanese sniper. He was 19 years old at the time of his death. In 1948 his remains were returned to Montana, and he was buried in the Catholic Cemetery at St. Ignatius, Montana.

PFC Kristofor Stonesifer, U.S. Army, Private First Class Kristofor Stonesifer, a former University of Montana ROTC Cadet, was one of the first American soldiers to die fighting the war against terrorism. Stonesifer attended the University as a philosophy major and worked to support his education at the Louisiana Pacific Corporation. He left school to enlist in the army. Following graduation from Ranger School, he was deployed to Afghanistan with a U.S. Army Ranger battalion as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Private Stonesifer, age 28, died in Pakistan on October 19, 2001 when the Black Hawk helicopter he was in crashed while serving as backup for a special forces mission into Afghanistan.

LT. Raymond Saunders, U.S. Air Service, First Lieutenant Raymond J. Saunders was the son of Mr. & Mrs. D.E. Saunders of Billings, Montana. Following his graduation from the University of Nebraska, Saunders entered military service at age 21 on May of 1917. He received primary aviation training at Columbus, Ohio. In October of 1917 he sailed overseas and took flight training as a combat pilot in Italy and in France. On May 12, 1918 he was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Service, and on September 26th he was assigned to the front to the U.S. 94th Air Squadron, the famous "Hat-in-the-Ring" squadron commanded by Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. On October 22, 1918 Lieutenant Saunders and two other squadron pilots were attacking German observation balloons over Breullis, France in the Meuse Argonne sector when Saunders was shot down from behind by a German Fokker aircraft. Since neither the wreckage of this plane nor his body was found, he was listed as missing in action. Some years later his remains were found in an unmarked grave and his body was reinterred at the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, France.

LT. Dave Stelling, U.S. Army Airforce, First Lieutenant Dave G. Stelling was born in Missoula, Montana on June 26, 1919, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Stelling. Stelling graduated from Missoula County High School in 1939. He was employed as a draftsman by the Montana State Highway Commission in Helena and by the U.S. Forest Service before he entered military service in January 1941.

Lieutenant Stelling received his wings in July 1943 at Craig Field, Selma, Alabama. In October of 1944 he was assigned to the Pacific theater. Lieutenant Stelling became a flight leader in the Forty-Seventh Fighter Squadron and flew a P-51 Mustang fighter while escorting B-29 bombers on raids against Japan. On April 22, 1945 Lieutenant Stelling participated in a raid against Tokyo from the Moyotana Air Field on Iwo Jima. Stelling's fighter was hit over Tokyo Bay, and he was seen to bail out. Attempts at rescuing Lt. Stelling were unsuccessful, and his remains were never found. Lt. Stelling was 25 years old at the time of his death. He was survived by his twenty-year old bride, Peggy Maclay Stelling of Missoula, his parents, and five brothers.

LT Norman Streit, U.S. Army, First Lieutenant Norman Streit Jr., was born in New York City on February 9, 1915, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Streit of Missoula, Montana. Streit grew up in Missoula and graduated from Missoula County High School, and from the University of Montana in 1941. Streit was associated with his father in the insurance business prior to entering military service in 1942. Lt. Streit first saw action with the 87th Mountain Infantry Division against the Japanese in Kiska Island in the Aleutian Campaign. He was then sent to the European Theater as part of the 36th Infantry, 3rd Armored Division. His unit took part in the June 6, 1944 D Day invasion at Normandy, France. Lt. Streit was killed in action in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge on Christmas Day, 1944. He is interred at the Henri-Chappelle U.S. Military Cemetery, Belgium.

LT David Sullivan, U.S. Army, Second Lieutenant David P. Sullivan, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sullivan of Missoula, Montana was a1962 graduate of Loyola High School. He attended Notre Dame University and Carroll College at Helena. He left school to pursue work in Seattle and was subsequently inducted in to the armed forces. Following basic training, Sullivan was accepted to Officer Candidate School at the Army Artillery and Missile Center, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. on December 12, 1967. Lt. Sullivan was killed in action in Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, on September 5, 1968. He was a member of Battery B, 5th Battalion, 4th Artillery and at the time of his death was assigned to a maneuver element of the lst Battalion, 61st Infantry. Lt. Sullivan and his comrades were in an Armored Personnel Carrier that was rushing to aid their ambushed comrades when Sullivan spotted the North Vietnamese and called down artillery fire upon their position. Almost immediately Lt. Sullivan's APC was hit by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade and he and a fellow officer were seriously wounded. A second RPG hit the vehicle and exploded in the engine compartment, wounding all members inside. Lt. Sullivan was medivaced from the ambush site to Danang. Sullivan never regained consciousness and died shortly thereafter. Lt. Sullivan was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals. A memorial cannon mounted in front of Division Artillery Headquarters at Fort Carson, Colorado was dedicated in his memory. He is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Missoula.