By unanimous vote Monday, Peters Township Council approved a request to honor a U.S. Army officer listed as missing in action.
Capt. Paul Urquhart, a township resident at the time his helicopter was shot down in 1971, will be recognized as part of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 682’s MIA Memorial Street Sign Project.
Making the request was Bob Weismantle, a U.S Navy veteran and resident of Conway, Beaver County. He initiated the project, which involves the placement of signs bearing missing servicemen’s name, rank, branch of the military and the fact they are MIA.
“Those guys are forgotten about,” he told council. “They gave their life.”
He noted 1,592 Americans who served in the Vietnam War remain unaccounted for, and 554 of them were from Pennsylvania, including four from Beaver and two from Washington counties.
Also Monday, Washington City Council approved a similar request to honor U.S. Air Force First Lt. James McEwen.
The MIA signs are bracketed above existing street signs, at no cost to the hosting municipalities.
Urquhart and his father, Charles, lived on Old Oak Road while Paul attended Washington & Jefferson College, from which he graduated in 1966, according to Bob Donnan, a Peters Township resident and Vietnam War Army veteran who arranged for Weismantle to make his request of council.
Urquhart volunteered for two tours of duty, and during the second, his aircraft plummeted into jungle-covered mountains near the Vietnam-Laos border on Memorial Day 1971.
Weismantle’s hope is people who notice the names on the MIA signs will seek further information about those who served. He told council he would like to have Urquhart’s sign in place by Oct. 1, and the veterans involved in the project will conduct a brief ceremony that includes a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”
Frank Kosir Jr., council chairman, expressed his support for the project.
“I think your cause is noble,” he told Weismantle. “There’s no question that MIAs have been forgotten over the passage of time. As years go by, we tend to forget sometimes the sacrifices which our men and women in the armed forces have made for our country. And I will be proud, sir, to move to approve your request.”
The township also has honored Urquhart by placing his name on the veterans memorial wall at the municipal building and by flying a POW/MIA flag there along with the Stars and Stripes. He also is represented on the Wall of Valor at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 764 on Valley Brook Road.
Urquhart was 26 when his helicopter went down and would have been 75 this month.