'A wonderful tribute' Pictorial display honors Clay County veterans Ray Hofman, Clay County Veterans Service Officer, calls the pictorial display of area veterans, "a wonderful tribute." by David Lias It's been two years since Dave Wherry, former Clay County Veterans Service Officer, began hanging service photos of local veterans on the walls of his office.
Ray Hofman, who took over as veterans service officer six months ago when Wherry accepted a position with the VA in Sioux Falls, has discovered that Wherry's idea still has plenty of momentum.
People are still bringing in photos. The once blank walls of Hofman's office in the Clay County Courthouse are completely filled. Clever use of office dividers � those temporary walls used to build cubicles around desks � has given Hofman a bit more room to hang photos.
Soon he will have to become more creative, because the photos just keep coming in, to Hofman's delight.
He pictures perhaps building a small maze-like structure with additional office dividers to provide more room for more photos.
"We'll certainly find room," Hofman said. "We have a couple different ideas of changing the divider around and making a walk-through area. With the (county) commissioners help, we can get more dividers.
"I just think it's a wonderful tribute that Dave Wherry started, and it's grown to be such a wonderful thing."
At first glance, it may look like Hofman's office doesn't have room for any more photos. He wants to assure the public, however, that more pictures can be displayed.
"We want people to know about it, and if they have any family or friends that were in the Vermillion area as veterans, we need to get their pictures up there."
When this project started in 2001, Wherry received nearly 100 photos in two months, and was ecstatic with the level of local response.
No one could foresee just how popular Wherry's idea would become.
"We're up to 529 pictures now," Hofman said.
Featured are veterans of nearly every rank in all branches of the armed forces.
"I even have some of the Dakota Cavalry," Hofman said.
The display isn't designed to show the carnage of war. The goal of the walls filled with photos is to present a pictorial record of the efforts made by local men and women in the armed services, at both times of war and peace.
Hofman, who recently retired as a detective from the Vermillion Police Department, served as an MP in the U.S. Army. His photo, and pictures of his two brothers who also were in the armed services are among the hundreds that hang in neat rows on his office wall.
"We're still accepting photographs," Hofman said. "Bring in whatever picture you have. If it is a wallet size, we can make it a 5 by 7, or if it's larger, we can reduce it down to that size. We're sticking to the 5 by 7 size because we need to conserve on room."