Please allow me to introduce you to an American Hero from our own community. Sgt. Joseph E. Proctor was raised in New Whiteland, Indiana and graduated from Whiteland Community High School in 1987. After graduation Joey, as he was known by his family and friends, married his high school sweetheart, joined the National Guard and then the Army and served five years in Germany during Desert Storm. Joey completed his military contract and returned to Indiana where he worked and raised his three children. The events of 9-11 changed the course of Joe Proctor’s life. He re-enlisted in the Army and once again walked into harm’s way to serve and protect the county he loved. On May 3, 2006 just 2 weeks from finishing his tour of duty, Sgt. Proctor courageously stared down the enemy and saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers. A dump truck packed with an estimated 350 lbs. of explosives charged the strong point and breached the wall. Before it could make it to the barracks area where dozens sleep, the driver was shot dead by Sergeant Joe Proctor. Proctor, without hesitation, opened fire on the truck, which was bearing down on him, killing the driver and bringing the vehicle to a stop. Seconds later the vehicle detonated, killing Sergeant Proctor instantly. In the process of once again putting others first Sgt. Proctor lost his own life.
Proctor Park is located on an 11 acre site at 499 Tracy Road in New Whiteland. A Memorial Plaque with Sgt. Proctor’s story is located at the entrance of the park in a landscaped memory garden area nestled beneath flags representing all branches of our military as well as our state and national flags. The park includes two shelter houses, landscaping, two separate playground areas, family picnic areas, walking trails, parking lots, lighting, benches and a pond for fishing.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and wear many different uniforms. Brick walkways have been installed to honor and memorialize the names and stories of all of our heroes – military, police, fire and EMS. This park affords us the opportunity to celebrate their lives, tell their stories, remember, honor and respect their service and their sacrifice. What began as a mission to thank one of our own fallen heroes has become an opportunity for us to thank, honor and respect the many men and women, both living and deceased who have sacrificed for all of us. For some of those heroes, the cost of their service required the ultimate sacrifice, their lives. We, as a community, have the opportunity to say thank you in a way that celebrates their service and guarantees that their memories will remain forever in our hearts and in our community. We will not let them be forgotten.
Much has been accomplished since we began our journey but our mission is far from complete. We believe that we have approximately $37,000.00 of unfinished work left at Proctor Park and we believe that it will be an ongoing project. There will always be one more chapter to write, one more veteran to thank, one more day to wake up and realize how truly blessed we are to be Americans.
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share our mission with you. If you would like to participate in any way please know that Proctor Park welcomes you. We are open to everyone. Proctor Park belongs to every man and woman who ever took an oath to serve and protect our country or our neighborhoods – it is a simple tribute – a token of our gratitude – a debt we can never fully pay.