OURAY – Ouray’s branch of Alpine Bank has taken the “wall of heroes” concept a step further. “We have received so many amazing donations that we couldn’t possibly fit them on just one wall,” said branch Operations Supervisor Jennifer Canavan, who has been in charge of the project. “So, we decided to create a whole ‘Room of Heroes.’”
The display of artifacts and stories, uniforms and medals and photographs, of Ouray military veterans past and present, will be available for viewing through July 4. An open house is planned this Friday, May 27, all day, with coffee and cookies, Canavan said.
All 37 branches of Alpine Bank around the state are participating. Ouray’s transformed conference room is adorned, on the outside, with a nearly wall-sized U.S. flag that flew from the frigate USS DeWert, while Chris Alvarez, now a bank officer, was an officer aboard the ship.
Inside are the uniforms of familiar Ouray County figures. There are the Navy-blue wool shirt and 13-button bellbottoms belonging to Rodney “Pete” Peterson (Canavan’s father and an undersheriff with the county for 10 years), along with a photo of the seaman from 1946, when Pete was 18 years old.
Nearby hangs the olive green jacket of former Ouray County commissioner Alan Staehle, US Army 1964-70.
Bill Leo loaned out his Navy cutlass. And there’s a picture of current County Assessor Susie Mayfield, in camouflage fatigues from her time as part of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, from 1989-93.
There are a number of displays that feature more than one Ouray generation in uniform. There are side-by-side photos of Craig Hinkson loading a tank round in 1987, and his daughter Casey Hinkson in a formal portrait at her graduation from West Point. Casey is currently serving in Afghanistan as part of the 54th Combat Engineers.
Another multi-generational display features Al Fedel (1919-2005), a well-known Ouray miner, and his granddaughter Kelly, a 1991 graduate of the Air Force Academy. Al is pictured as a young aviator in World War II, part of the Army Air Force 31st Fighter Group that served in Europe and Africa. Kelly, the captions tell us, fought in Bosnia.
Canavan would like everyone to know that she welcomes more donations. “Please, keep bringing stuff in,” she said. “We certainly have a lot of heroes in our town.” And the “Room of Heroes” can accommodate many more.