Decades ago, there was a memorial in the middle of this intersection honoring Greene County Marines who died in the Pacific Theater during World War II. A reader asked what happened to it. (Steve Pokin photo)

It has been years since Janet Johnston Allen, of Springfield, asked me what happened to the memorial to World War II Marines that decades ago sat smack dab in the middle of the East Trafficway Street and North Kimbrough intersection.

I called her out-of-the-blue Thursday and she told me she had found her answer without my assistance.

Someone at the Air & Military Museum of the Ozarks, 2305 E. Kearney St., told her where to look.

I don’t want you to think I’ve been working on this one question for six years. I haven’t.

I wrote down her question on what I’ll assume was a very busy day for me and promptly forgot it.

Fortunately, I occasionally go through and review my long list of Answer Man questions.

The three-sided concrete memorial was unveiled in March of 1945, while World War II was still being fought. On each of the three concave sides are the names of Greene County Marines who, according to original reporting, died in the Pacific Theater.

The names of Marines from Greene County are inscribed on the memorial. (Steve Pokin photo)

The cost of construction was covered by public donations.

It was placed near the American Legion Post 69 building at a time when the intersection looks nothing like it looks like today.

The memorial was built with the help of donations from the public. (Steve Pokin photo)

“It was Springfield’s first roundabout,” jokes John Sellars, executive director emeritus of the History Museum on the Square. I know him as Deputy Answer Man.

Post 69 was there back in 1945 when the memorial was created. Taylor’s Drive-In was established in 1947.

The small parking lot at the back (or north side) of the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque (built in 1923) back then was the site of a small service station, Sellars says.

The firehouse that today is home to Hold Fast Brewing was not there, Sellars says. But a business was.

It was a busy intersection, Sellars says.

“The kids would peel out of Taylor’s.”

In addition, Allen tells me, the monument was bigger. There was more to it, she says, than the three sides with the names.

“Six to eight people could climb up the front of it,” she says.

She recalls seeing a photo of the memorial in the intersection.

She is not sure what is missing when comparing the monument she saw in a photo, in the middle of the intersection, to seeing it at its present location today.

In researching this story, there apparently once was a “Mitchell Street” near East Trafficway, Kimbrough Avenue and what’s known as the “Benton Avenue Viaduct.”

The viaduct, or bridge, takes traffic over the many railroad tracks that are there.

History note: I believe I have heard of “Mitchell Street” only once before during my 10-year journalism career in Springfield.

Thomas Persell, a Springfield motorcycle police officer, in January 1933 followed a suspicious vehicle down Mitchell Street.

Persell pulled it over and the driver jumped out with a sawed-off shotgun. Persell was abducted — and later released — by Bonnie and Clyde.

By 1949, the patch of ground where the memorial sat needed maintenance.

A July 28 story that year in the Springfield Leader and Press states the city agreed to pave the area at the memorial and a local company donated the material.

In March 1958, the city wanted to remodel the intersection where the memorial was — at the south end of the Benton Avenue Viaduct. The memorial had to go.

It was moved to Fassnight Park, near the baseball fields.

It was vandalized with spray paint in July 1966, according to the Springfield Leader and Press.

The newspaper reported in 1975 that the memorial was heading to the Marine Training Center, 1110 N. Fremont Ave., now called the Armed Forces Reserve Center.

The memorial was moved to the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 1110 N. Fremont Ave., where it is today. (Steve Pokin photo)

That’s where it is today, outside the large building on public display. You can see it from Fremont Avenue.

The men are gone, but their names remain, honored by this city for their service.

This is Answer Man Column No. 14.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin