Belding loses more than just a Vietnam Vet with Denny Craycraft’s passing
BELDING, Mich. — When veterans of the Vietnam War came back from combat, they were forgotten – or worse – chastised for their service. But because of the work of Denny Craycraft, they will forever stand in perpetuity in a small, unassuming corner of Belding, Michigan.
Craycraft, himself a Vietnam vet, hurdled obstacles almost weekly for a year to erect what is now one of the most sparkling memorials to veterans of every major American conflict since the birth of the country. In his heart, the replica of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. held the mantle.
The project broke ground shortly after 2016 began – the tip of a red-tape iceberg that lasted the better part of a year to attain permits and funding. Now erect and all but finished, save a few minor details, the wall bears the names of the 2,654 fallen Michigan Vietnam soldiers and sailors, laser etchings of scenes from battle, and leading up to it, 12 pillars with the names of local veterans who laid down their lives in the conflict.
It was a project Craycraft called “his medicine.”
On a sweltering Memorial Day last year, the wall was unveiled to a crowd of veterans, their families, and people from around the state and beyond come to see the much-anticipated wall. It didn’t disappoint. Shipping the granite slabs in from India, and at a cost of $165,000, Craycraft made sure every cent was organically fundraised.
Craycraft’s funeral will be Sunday, April 14 at Belding High School. The exact time has not yet been determined. Craycraft often spoke at the school to students about the military and its customs.