ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Mike Upchurch is a dad, husband, and veteran. As he walked through the LZ Peace Memorial on a fall afternoon, he remembered his time served in the AirForce during the Vietnam War.
“I spent 12 years in the AirForce. I was captain. When I came out, my field was an air weapons controller, which [meant] I controlled fighters by radar,” he recalled.
Upchurch enlisted when he was 23 and says he has no regrets. He says the AirForce gave him experience and opportunities he couldn’t get anywhere else.
He believes the LZ Peace Memorial, located adjacent to Rockford’s Midway Village Museum, at 6799 Guilford Road, gives veterans a way to remember. Some memories are harder than others, he said.
“Every once in a while, sometimes, you come here and see someone just sitting, just reflecting, spending some time here,” Upchurch said.
The memorial honors veterans who served locally. Upchurch said he finds it a place to gather, reflect, and find support.
“They’re not always talking about the things that happened when they were in combat, things like that, but just a everyday life and things, that they need people [to] share with, maybe have an understanding of what they are going through,” she said.
He says it is also a place to honor those who fought to keep us free.
“This is our history. This is who we are. This is the guys, the ones who did the ultimate sacrifice of being killed, also the ones who were wounded, the ones who served all over the country, all over the world — you know, this is our history,” Upchurch said.