Honoring Linfield’s fallen soldiers

A missing piece of Linfield’s history returns to the McMinnville Campus

The original plaque is mounted outside of Memorial Hall on Linfield College’s McMinnville Campus.

Two missing plaques from Memorial Hall that honor Linfield College students who lost their lives to war in service of their country have been reinstated.

“It’s a wonderful thing that the College has worked so hard to get the plaques back where they belong,” said Rich Schmidt, college archivist.

Both plaques disappeared during renovations and remodels over the years. The first plaque was originally installed on the outside of Memorial Hall. The plaque went missing, and stayed lost until a business owner found it in the back room of a building in Sandy in the summer of 2016. The business owner turned it over to the Sandy Historical Society, and after some sleuthing, discovered the plaque came from Linfield. Schmidt retrieved the plaque from the Society and brought it back to Memorial Hall.

The recreated plaque resides inside Memorial Hall on the McMinnville Campus.

The second plaque is a recreated panel that was originally presented to the college by the Linfield Alumni Association in honor of “the Linfield men who gave their lives in World War II.”

Eric Schuck, professor of economics, learned of the plaque for the first time when reading Inspired Pragmatism: An Illustrated History of Linfield College, published for the college’s sesquicentennial.

“I came across photos of the original memorial plaque and a discussion of how many Linfield students, alumni and faculty have given their lives for our country,” he said. “That we had lost the plaque and forgotten their names…well, it was nearly more than I could bear.”

The original memorial could not be located, and was painstakingly recreated by Linfield staff. More than 500 alumni, faculty members and trustees served in World War II, and 25 were named as dead or missing in action.

“Unfortunately, a complete accounting of Linfield’s war dead is nearly impossible due to the scarcity of records, but we can and do have a complete tally of our Second World War dead,” said Schuck.

The plaque originally listed only 24 students who died; the name of Hubert A. Santo was added to the new memorial.

Schuck, who is currently serving in the Middle East with the United States Navy, said that the restoration of the plaques was an important way to honor the sacrifice of these students.

Eric Schuck, professor of economics at Linfield and an officer in the United States Navy.

“I’m a third-generation naval officer,” he said. “I’ve buried family and friends under flag-draped coffins and listened to ‘Taps’ echoing on gravestones. There is something frighteningly intimate in looking at the names of war dead on a wall and being able to put a face to a name, holding a memory of a young man who is permanently, inalterably young in memory, never to age again.”

Schuck said that the plaques are “a chance for the College to return the names of these men to the voices of the living, a chance for them to live on in our memory and through the lives of the young men and women who bring life to Memorial Hall.”