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This memorial has the distinction of “being the only Veterans Memorial Museum of its’ kind in the State of Iowa and surrounding states,” and rightly so. Curator/Executive Director William Wonder said, “I came up with the idea to create a memorial in 1997 and it needed to be done to honor our Veterans.” Wonder, a non-Veteran, who owns the local newspaper “The Democrat” advertised in the paper for assistance and support. Just three years later, the memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day.

The outdoor exhibits include an M60 A3 armored tank and a 105mm Howitzer artillery piece brought from Fort Des Moines, A7D Corsair II fighter jet from Sioux City’s airbase, a Vietnam Huey Helicopter from Cedar Rapids, a vintage 1942 Diamond T M3 half-track vehicle from Bakersfield, CA, and a Danforth ship anchor from the Persian Gulf.

More than 6,000 Monona County Veterans’ names are engraved on bronze panels of a two-ton, blue/grey granite monument. Those honored are Veterans Killed in Action, Missing in Action, Wounded in Combat, Prisoners of War as well as soldiers killed in non-conflict situations. Placed on top of the pillar is a bronze statue of a vintage rifle, helmet, dog tags and religious cross.

On September 22, 2016, a 50-ton Freedom Rock was dedicated with lifelike paintings of Veterans and other military images. One of the paintings is of Army Corporal Llythaniele Fender who was killed at the age of 21, by an IED in 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Another painting memorializes Veteran Archie Steen who flew Royal Air Force gliders in WWII.

Onawa has an impressive Veterans memorial museum that reminds and educates people about Veterans sacrifices. Visitors can tour the museum and view the oak and glass cabinets that display photographs, prints, stories, newspapers, uniforms, hats, and medals, which all document the history of wars. Mannequins donned in uniforms stand among a vintage 1942 Ford Jeep and a 1917 horse-drawn Army machine gun and cart. It is hard not to feel a personal connection to the displayed photos and flags of the fallen Veterans exhibited. The ambiance of the museum is accented with background music of ballads, audio of patriotic marches and past war news broadcasts.

A new memorial addition was constructed in 2006 to honor those that served in Desert Storm, 911 and in the current War on Terror. This features a multi-media center and expansive military library.


Stone Group Architects (SGA) is a proud supporter of our Veterans and Military Memorials. While we are strong supporters, SGA is independent from the memorials and does not claim responsibility of building or funding these memorials. SGA is a verified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small business (SDVOSB) architectural firm, providing planning and design services to a variety of government clients.

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