Orange County Veterans Memorial
Press Releases
Written by Chapel Hill North Carolina   
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 06:36 PM

America is the land of opportunity and a beacon of hope and freedom because our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen have fought valiantly to defeat tyranny and terror, and to protect the liberties we hold most dear.

It is this truth that helped form the Orange County Veterans Memorial committee in 2016. A land donation and seed dollars from Orange County government helped to get the committee started on building the County’s first Veterans Memorial, outside of the memorials on campus. The University of North Carolina pays homage to Veterans through several monuments and displays on campus, including Memorial Hall and North Carolina Memorial Hospital, created after WWII.

Locals Giving Back

Our veterans memorial project committee is comprised of veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. The committee also includes Orange County Commissioners and staff. 

  • Bruce L. Runberg, Co-Chairman, Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired); Vietnam
  • Jim Merritt, Co-Chairman; former Chapel Hill Town Councilman; Vietnam
  • Lee Heavlin, Master Chief Petty Officer, US Navy (Retired); Vietnam, Korea Defense
  • Ted Triebel, Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired); Vietnam
  • Fred Black, Colonel, US Army (Retired); Vietnam
  • Major Everett “Bud” Hampton, USMC (Retired); Iwo Jima and other islands, Korea
  • David Chandler, U.S. Air Force, Persian Gulf
  • James Parise, U.S. Army, Vietnam
  • Commissioner Renee Price, Orange County
  • Jeff Thompson, County Director of Asset Management Services, Orange County
  • Todd McGee, Community Relations Director, Orange County
  • Renee Price, Vice Chair, Orange County Commissioners
  • Jesse Torres, Marine Corps League, Vietnam
  • Perry Reaves, Marine Corps League; Vietnam
  • Dr. Marshall Morris, MSC, U.S. Navy (Retired), Vietnam

Major Everett "Bud" Hampton

Every member of the committee has an important story to tell. Major Everett “Bud” Hampton, USMC, Retired was eloquent in a recent talk he shared about his service.

“In January 1945, my Division sailed for the island of Iwo Jima. Since our Battalion was the first wave at Saipan and Tinian, we were to land in reserve on Iwo Jima.

The Japanese had everything underground on this island. There were many caves with several openings for each. One cave on Mt. Suribachi was seven stories deep. General Kuribayashi had this island zeroed in for every square yard and had ordered every man to stay in his position and to kill ten enemy before dying. It took 36 days for the Marines to take this 8 square mile island. There were over 22,000 casualties.

My company landed with ten officers at about 1:00 pm on D-Day, 19 February 1945. 

Hampton and Orange County resident Ed Gill recently represented Orange County veterans at a Military Ball hosted by the 353rd Military Police Battalion. 

Veterans committee members Ed Gill (center) and Bud Hampton (right) were invited to speak at the 535th Military Police Battalion Ball in Louisberg, NC. Ed served in Vietnam. His dad, a Marine, was killed in combat on Iwo Jima on March 6, 1945. Bud Hampton survived.

The Ultimate Service

Veterans are the backbone of this country. Without them, there would be no United States of America. No Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

“Through this Orange County Memorial, we want to remember those who protected our nation by creating a memorial that will honor their service and sacrifice,” said Jim Merritt, also a committee co-chairman, former Chapel Hill Town Council member and Vietnam Veteran. “It’s a way for our community to say we are proud of the service these veterans provided.”

Goals & Completion Dates

Bruce Runberg, the co-chairperson of the Veterans Memorial Committee and a veteran of the Vietnam War, said the total project cost estimate is $500,000, 80 percent of which will go towards hard costs and 20 percent of which will go towards an endowment to care for the site. It is expected that the Memorial will be finished in 2022. 

Progress to Date:

  • The memorial, located on Homestead Road in Chapel Hill, has already gone through Phase I of a five-phase construction process. Several gravel trails were paved and a temporary kiosk and flagpole were erected. 
  • The site was dedicated on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016. Groundbreaking took place on Memorial Day 2017, and a Flag Plaza dedication service was held on Memorial Day 2018. 
  • The Carrboro Board of Aldermen recently voted April 16 to devote $25,000 to support the construction of the Orange County Veterans Memorial.
  • Carrboro’s $25,000 contribution will help facilitate Phase II, which includes the installation of a permanent flagpole and brickwork.
  • Chapel Hill will also consider a donation to advance the project.

Please take a moment to think of the hard work taking place to make this Memorial a reality, and the people who inspired it. They represent the best in all of us.

The first Ranger Up Grappling Classic in November, 2018. Jim Merritt (Cochair of the Veterans Memorial), David Chandler (Veterans Memorial Committee), Allen Buansi (Town of Chapel Hill Council Member and Veterans Memorial Member), and Nick Palmisciano (Founder and President of Ranger Up and host of the Ranger Up Grappling Classic)

Ways to Help:

  • Donations can be made online to the Orange County Community Giving Fund
  • Checks can be sent to: Orange County Community Giving Fund, Financial Services, PO Box 8181, Hillsborough, NC 27278. Checks should indicate the gift is for the Veterans Memorial.
  • Families also can recognize their loved ones through memorial naming opportunities. More information is available at
  • Some like to memorialize a family member, friend, or veterans group. The memorial walkways will provide this opportunity. Engraved pavers are 4" × 8″ and 8" × 8″ in size and cost $100 and $200, respectively.
  • Grappling and a Veterans Memorial? Yes, the annual event at Chapel Hill High School proudly gives all proceeds from its annual event to the Orange County Veterans Memorial. Grappling is a style of fighting that does not involve punches, kicks, or any other type of striking. Some Martial Arts that use Grappling Techniques are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, Judo.

It’s fitting that Chapel Hill and Orange County are working together to honor veterans. From its very beginnings, veterans have been a part of who we’ve become: the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s founder and first president, William Richardson Davie, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Orange County is a community that was built on the belief that we are stronger together, and veterans are the very best examples of what that strength has done, and can do.