Blake Maggart peered at the letters etched in the granite while his mother, Teresa, held him Monday.
There were 16 last names etched on the war memorial in the heart of DuPont. Fifteen were unfamiliar to the 4-year-old. But the last one he recognized.
It was his own.
Maggart’s young face brightened. He pointed.
“That’s my daddy’s name,” he told his mother.
About 200 residents gathered at Ross Plaza to bear witness as the names of Army Sgt. Brandon Maggart and two others were added to a memorial honoring service members from the south Pierce County city who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As each of the three names was read, a piece of black tape was pulled off of the memorial to reveal the names underneath: Maggart, Chief Warrant Officer Frank Buoniconti and Lt. David Johnson.
It was a poignant moment in a city where service members, their family members and retirees make up about half of the 8,400 inhabitants.
“You need to look no further than this wall behind me to see the special importance this day has for our city,” Mayor Michael Grayum said. “While our service men and women hold the line, we have an important responsibility to provide a secure and safe community for our military families while their spouses are in harm’s way.”
Maggart, 24, of Kirksville, Mo., died Aug. 22, 2010, in Iraq while assigned to the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He was buried at a state veterans cemetery in Missouri a few days later.
Teresa Maggart said the addition of her late husband’s name to the DuPont war memorial means she no longer has to travel far to share birthdays and other holidays with him.
“I can teach Blake this is our special place where we give daddy love,” she said. “He gets to see him more than once a year when we go home.”
She is buying a house in DuPont because of the emotional support she’s received from friends and strangers alike.
“They honor the fallen every day, every week and it’s just amazing to be around that kind of support,” she said.
Buoniconti, a 36-year-old decorated Army aviator, died Dec. 12 when two helicopters collided during nighttime training and crashed north of Rainier. Three other Army aviators died in the crash.
Johnson, 24, was killed Jan. 25 by a mine during foot patrol, becoming the first member of his unit, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, to die after it deployed to Afghanistan in December.
The DuPont memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day 2010 and named after retired Army Master Sgt. Wilburn Ross, a DuPont resident who attended the ceremony. He is one of 12 World War II veterans still living who were awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for combat valor.
Grayum and guest speaker Allan Crowell, a retired Army officer who served on the memorial committee, presented roses to the two widows and placed a wreath in front of the memorial.
Family members of the two service members were then invited up for a viewing of the names.
Buoniconti’s parents, Frank and Silvia Buoniconti, had flown in from Colorado to attend the ceremony. The elder Buoniconti said his son and family had moved from Fort Irwin, Calif., and had lived in DuPont less than two months before his death. He said his son’s widow and their four children will remain in DuPont.
“For the town to honor someone who had only been here a short time, I thought was very nice,” he said.