RIPON -- Jean Moulyn scanned the steel gray granite tiles on Ripon's veterans wall Saturday until she found her father, Robert Walter Crisler.
The World War II pilot's is among 505 names of U.S. military personnel en- graved on the wall. It was dedicated Satur- day, along with a neighboring park and military museum at the corner of Locust Avenue and First Street.
"This whole thing is beautiful," Moulyn, 60, said.
About 300 people attended the ceremony. Many stayed afterward to search for names of family and friends, and even their own names. The wall honors anyone who has served in the military and at one time lived in Ripon.
Some, including 21-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Casey Schaapman, still are enlisted. He deploys to Iraq next month. Next to his name, his dates of service are listed as 2005-2011.
Others, such as Crisler's name, are in memory of local heroes who have been gone for decades. Crisler was a celebrated pilot during World War II who logged 775 flying hours and flew 29 combat missions from 1942 to 1945, including one where his plane broke into pieces over the English Channel. He parachuted to safety.
The museum features his picture and newspaper articles chronicling his experience, including a Certificate of Honor signed by President Johnson and awarded to his wife, Lorene Crisler, in 1964 after Crisler died in 1955.
The museum features binders full of newspaper articles and other documents, uniforms, medals, photos and memorabilia ranging from a mess tin to U.S.-issued "anti-pain pills" and a box of ammonia inhalants.
"We don't have the Smithsonian, but this is something the community can be proud of," said John Mangelos, president and founder of the city's historical society who spearheaded the drive to build the museum in a former City Hall building. "It represents the commitment by our residents."
He said numerous companies donated the labor and supplies to build the museum. Donations also went into building the wall. American Legion Post 190 organized that drive and collected names. It has worked on the effort since 1998, and it's not over, said organizer Don Schaapman, Casey Schaapman's grandfather.
"It was a dream of the Legion to have the wall, and we had no idea how big it would get, how many names would be on it," said Schaapman, a Korean War veteran. "We have 505 names on the wall and 100 more in the making. We have room for 1,500. It's not a memorial wall but a living wall for all veterans, and we even have room to add to it 100 years from now if need be to add even more names."
Miguel Badia, 58, who served in the Vietnam War and is junior vice commander and past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1051, said he hopes the wall never fills up.
"General MacArthur said, 'There is nobody who hates war more than a professional soldier.' No one wins. Even the victor loses," he said. "Veterans Day is always hard. The eighth is my birthday and also the day my grandmother died, and there are all the reminders, ceremonies, memories of friends who are not here anymore. You always think of them.
"I try to forget it every day of the year. I'm sure all vets would rather be able to put it in the back of their mind and never remember again. There are moments when you want to remember, but mostly you want to forget."
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2324.