FWB Woman’s Club Commissions Mural at Choctawhatchee HS to Honor Fallen Heroes

The memorial was an idea of the Fort Walton Beach Woman’s Club President, Cissy Wyninegar after she attended the memorial for former Choctawhatchee High School student, Sam Hairston.  “She felt that we needed a way to honor the Choctaw alumni who have given their live as a result of hostile action,” said Kathy Pacheco, Public Issues Chairman for the Fort Walton Beach Woman’s Club and Choctaw alumni.

Through many discussions and ideas, the mural came together through the efforts of another Club member, Lee Glaser, who connected them to Eric Henn, the muralist who is accomplishing the artwork at Choctaw.  He began on Friday March 25th and he expects to be finished on Wednesday, March 30th.  “This mural has a lot of meaning to it, so this is one of the jobs that I feel really privileged to be involved with,” said Henn.

“We raised approximately $11,000 through donations and sponsorships for a 5K run which took place on Veterans’ Day, Nov 11, 2015,” said Pacheco.  “We partnered with the Northwest Florida Track Club who provided their expertise in coordinating the run.  The run was named ‘Home of the Brave’ as a nod to the fallen and Choctaw.  We solicited sponsors for donations and we were very fortunate that Sharon and Tim Smith donated $5,000 which allowed us to move forward.  Another large donation came from the American Legion Auxiliary who donated $1,000.”

The Woman’s Club is now reaching out to the families of the fallen to let them know about the mural and to possibly acquire a photo for the planned plaques which will be included in the mural.  Since ten of the fallen were as a result of the Vietnam War, there is limited information on the families so they are trying to ensure that at a minimum they let them know that this is being accomplished to honor their loved one.

Through this effort, Pacheco has also identified other alumni which bring the list to fourteen.  “We hope that we never have another alumni lost in combat, but if we do, we plan to add another plaque,” said Pacheco. 

This project is to honor those who were killed in combat and hostile actions, but there is another group of alumni who are working to raise funds to begin a memorial which will be in the stadium area. That memorial will honor all of the Choctaw alumni who have died on active duty (non-combat). 

The Woman’s Club has created an email dedicated solely for the purpose of gathering information, homeofthebrave2016@yahoo.com.  Kathy Pacheco is the point of contact for the Woman’s Club and can be reached via the Home of the Brave email.