Man Donates Land to Build Jackson County Veteran's Memorial

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

MAQUOKETA, Iowa -- Crews tore down a home in Maquoketa on Wednesday to make way for a Veteran's Memorial Park. It will be for all veterans from Jackson County, but is specifically in memory of two Jackson County veterans.

Marine Corporal Zachary Reiff, 22, of Preston, was killed in Afghanistan in 2011. Staff Sergeant Donald Griffith,29, of Mechanicsville died in Iraq in 2005. Griffith's family is donating the land for the park.

Watching excavators rip down the house Bobby Johnson has always called home is nothing compared to the pain he's experienced.

Johnson said, "It was March 11, 2005. Exactly three years and six months to the day after 9-11. "

Johnson's nephew, Staff Sergeant Donald Griffith Jr. was killed in combat in Iraq.

"Because he was my best friend. I want to do this in his honor, " said Johnson.

Johnson is donating the land his home sat on to the Andrew AmVets.

Andrew AmVets Representative Bill Goettler said, "We hope to have this park to memorialize veterans who have served "

Johnson said, "This is what I have been wanting to do for almost a year and a half or two years "

The pace of the project sped up a few weeks ago, as Johnson's doctors made a shocking discovery.

Goettler said, "I know he has lung cancer, but I don't think he fully knows the extent of it. "

Johnson says his doctors will soon determine if that cancer has spread to other parts of his body.

Meanwhile, he's making sure he leaves a legacy.

Johnson said, "I want to see this happen as far as I can. If I don't get to see it, my friends will. "

Organizers of the Jackson County Veteran's Park are accepting donations at Maquoketa State Bank in Maquoketa.
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