Marine veteran volunteer helps keeps monument honoring fallen soldiers presentable

Memorial Day celebrations on Monday, May 28, will be held at meticulously manicured sites around the country.

In Gresham, it will be at the Gresham Heroes Memorial at Gresham's Main City Park, 219 S Main Ave., where the flags will be crisp and clean, nearby shrubbery will free of weeds and the bricks will be clean.

That's thanks in part to Gresham's Veteran of Foreign Wars member Mike Alford, who spent about two days last week pressure washing and weeding the site in preparation. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: RON POMPEL  - Mike Alford power washes the Gresham Heroes Memorial in preparation for Memorial Day.

Alford, a Marine veteran, is no stranger to keeping up the tribute. For the past few years he has taken it upon himself to keep the memorial that honors fallen soldiers in tip-top shape, including repairing and replacing all the lights about five years ago.

That's not something the VFW could just fix with volunteer help as those lights — which illuminate flags from the ground — are more complicated to repair than standard light fixtures, he explained.

"Those are not just a lightbulb socket," Alford said. "They cost about $1,200 a piece. They have to be repaired and maintained in a proper manner."

Alford has the training and experience needed to take care of the fixtures as he retired from the city of Portland as an electrician. Despite his diligence, he doesn't take much credit for his efforts.

"It's been my little kickback to the community," Alford said. "I keep that place looking good; it's no big deal."

In addition to the cleaning and keeping the site illuminated, Alford also makes sure the flags flown at the site are in proper order.

Fellow VFW member Ron Pompel wanted to make sure Alford was recognized for his efforts.

He helped Alford with the power washing last week.

"Mike's got a big heart and he's very concerned. He cares that we recognize the fallen," Pompel said. "He does all this stuff, and he just goes out there and does it."

Pompel said that Alford has paid for the majority of the lighting work out of his own pocket. So Alford asked the Gresham Lions Supper Club to donate money, and the club agreed to support the memorial as a civic project.

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