GREENHILL — Tommy Conley said he is thrilled the Matthew Conley Memorial Foundation was able to complete a memorial honoring the U.S. military and his son at the Greenhill Dixie Youth Baseball complex two years ahead of schedule.
Friends and family gathered at the field near Rogers High School on Friday to dedicate the the monument that was originally expected to take five years to build.
Matthew D. Conley was a Rogers High School graduate and a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. who was killed by an improvised explosive device on Feb. 18, 2006, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
His father said the memorial is for everyone who has served in the military or is serving in the military.
Conley said the memorial includes American flags, military flags and stone markers representing the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and the names of individuals who have served in the various branches.
There is a fence surrounding the memorial and a smaller fence to keep children from climbing on the markers.
Conley thanked the foundation's president, Justin Wilkinson, for putting in so much time that the project was completed ahead of schedule.
"We're pretty fortunate to do that," he said. "We had lots of donations and help. The community has been super fantastic. We've done a lot of fundraisers the past few years.
Last Friday, Rogers High School retired Conley's No. 7 and the number of another Greenhill veteran killed in action, Wayne Bramlett. Bramlett went to Vietnam shortly after he graduated in 1968, according to former state Rep. Mike Curtis, who was part of the radio broadcast crew when Conley played football for Rogers.
Bramlett's number was 83.
Curtis said Matthew Conley played baseball at the Dixie Youth field that now bears his name.
When Curtis was in the state Legislature, he was able to get a portion of U.S. 43 through Greenhill named after Matthew Conley. Jason Isbell's "Dress Blues" is a tribute to Matthew Conley.
Tommy Conley said it's important to honor all military veterans.
While the memorial is paid for, Conley said the remaining money and additional funds the foundation raises will be used in the Greenhill community and for needs at Rogers High School.