In honor of their service

Two Marine Corps vets are building a Web site naming every one of Hernando's war veterans.

By Beth N. Gray, Times Correspondent
Published February 25, 2008

BROOKSVILLE - A piece of Hernando County history will soon be available across the world.

Marine Corps veterans and brothers-in-law Bill Pierson of Spring Hill and Robert Rogoski of Ridge Manor undertook a major photographic mission on Saturday at the Veterans Roll of Honor outside the county courthouse in downtown Brooksville.

They photographed the name of every county veteran who has served in wartime since World War II, the names etched in granite - 1,620 of them. Pierson will build a Web site to display the names.

The idea is based on "recognizing veterans and giving them support," said Pierson, 36, a jet engine mechanic and lance corporal with the Marines from 1989 to 1994. Rogoski, 35, enlisted for the same period as a crash crewman, essentially a firefighter, who rose to the rank of corporal. Their names are on the wall. Although the two volunteered for the Persian Gulf War, the corps said it needed them in the States for troop support. They were assigned to New River Base at Jacksonville, N.C.

Pierson and Rogoski are doing the project because, according to the local veterans office, the names of wartime service personnel from Hernando County are recorded only in stone.

Said Pierson: "I thought the Web project might be nice for people who no longer live in Hernando County. My thought process was not to limit (the honor roll availability) to people who visit the courthouse, but for anyone to see it online and visit it at any time and be proud of the folks on there."

Both men are donating their work. Pierson, the computer-savvy guy who works for Complete Technology Solutions in Spring Hill, is creating the Web site, the site itself donated by CTS. Rogoski, a manager at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Ridge Manor West, is the helper. Both are longtime Hernando County residents.

The original Hernando County Veterans Roll of Honor, dedicated March 10, 1946, recognized 990 county veterans for their service during both world wars. A new 9-by-18-foot granite wall was unveiled on Veterans Day 1990. Since then, it has expanded to 1,620 names of individuals who served as of Dec. 20, 2007.

Pierson and Rogoski's boosterism for the military has another facet.

On local radio station WWJB-AM 1450, the two host a live call-in program at 7 p.m. each Tuesday called The Military Appreciation Show. The show, now 6 weeks old, centers on fostering troop support and recognizing and remembering local veterans.

They hope their Honor Roll project will give momentum to the radio show.

Beth Gray can be contacted at graybethn@earthlink.net.