Roger Marvin Hockaday died somewhere in France during World War I while fighting for the U.S. Army.
After his death, his family slowly left the Wake Forest area. But some of his kin will return on Monday to honor him in the town’s third flag-raising ceremony, which honors local veterans who died in combat.
Wake Forest began hosting the ceremonies last fall. They are monthly events from April to November.
Town leaders quickly learned that it can be tough to identify local veterans who lost their lives in combat, said Assistant Town Manager Roe O’Donnell. The town relies on word-of-mouth referrals or family members who reach out.
A vibrant network of veterans’ groups has also been crucial in helping the town find veterans to honor, O’Donnell said.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8466, American Legion Post 187, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 187, the Wake Forest Purple Heart Foundation and the Marine Corps League formed a committee last year to coordinate the ceremonies.
During the events, one flag is lowered and given to the veteran’s family. Then a new flag is raised.
About 2,000 veterans were living in Wake Forest between 2009 and 2013, according to U.S. Census data. It’s unclear where or when those veterans served.
The town has a veterans’ memorial that lists more than 300 names of soldiers who served in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam.
Although the town is focusing on veterans who were killed in combat, later ceremonies will focus on veterans who returned home.
“There won’t be any shortage of veterans to commemorate,” O’Donnell said.
Hockaday’s name was left off the local memorial, and the family has tried for years to get his name on the wall. It will happen as part of the ceremony, said Wake Forest spokesman Bill Crabtree.
Crabtree brought the idea of flag-raising ceremonies to town in 2014 after seeing a similar service in Tarboro.
The event solidifies Wake Forest’s dedication to its veterans, he said.
O’Donnell, who is a veteran of the British Army and a member of the local Purple Heart Foundation, also offered his support.
“I always have an appreciation for armed services, for the people who have served in the armed services and for what they have done for us in the past and continue to do for us,” O’Donnell said.
Want to go?
Roger Marvin Hockaday will be honored at Centennial Plaza outside Wake Forest Town Hall starting at 11 a.m. Monday, April 6. The ceremony will begin with a lowering of the flag for veteran Benny Jackson. Photographs and other remembrances of Hockaday will be on display in Town Hall throughout April.
Families interested in a flag-raising ceremony for relatives who were veterans can contact Dennis Mecum with the Wake Forest VFW at firstname.lastname@example.org.