DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — Several plaques honoring veterans were removed from the Hershey Recreation Center in May of 2020 for a pool expansion. Over two years later, the plaques are still leaning against the wall on the back side of the Derry Township municipal building.
The abc27 Investigators asked Derry Township why the plaques were still there.
“We knew that there was a desire to make a new memorial in the downtown area, so we preserved the plaques so they could be included, but there were no official drawing/plans at that point in May of 2020 when they were removed from Hershey Recreation Center,” said Rebecca Sweigart, Township of Derry, Public Outreach Coordinator.
Randy McKillop is working to get those heroes’ names back in the spotlight.
“I have been working on this for 17 years now,” said McKillop.
McKillop’s original goal, 17 years ago, was to honor his former teammate. He still remembers the first day of baseball practice at Hershey High School. He was just a freshman.
“We walk across this baseball field and we saw giants. These seniors had full beards, mustaches, they were frightening, scared us to death,” said McKillop.
A senior by the name of Mike “Rocks” Horrocks, had his back.
“He said to me, ‘Just stand here, they won’t bother you, they’ll let you be.’ After the practice, all my buddies come up to me saying, ‘What are you doing with Rocks?’ and ‘How do you know Rocks?’ I said, ‘I don’t know Rocks, but he helped me all day.’ I never forgot that,” said McKillop.
Twenty years later, Mike Horrocks was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. He was the co-pilot of Flight 175, the second plane that crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
“Once a teammate, always a teammate,” said McKillop.
Since then, McKillop has been working to get a memorial to honor Horrocks in downtown Hershey.
“Every year I’ve asked Derry Township, ‘Is there an opportunity where I could have land or some property down here in downtown Hershey?'” said McKillop.
His persistence paid off — the township approved a piece of land right next to the Hershey Volunteer Fire Department on the corner of Cocoa and Caracas Avenues to be the future site of the “Courtyard of Honor.”
It will include a statue to honor Mike Horrocks. It will also honor first responders and veterans, including the heroes on the plaques behind the Derry Township Municipal building.
“We have those plaques that we are going to put there, as well, with over 1,000 names of people from Derry Township,” said McKillop.
The Courtyard of Honor will remind future generations of the sacrifices made by those who came before. “We can never forget, we have to have this continue,” said McKillop.
The goal is to raise $450,000 for the Courtyard of Honor. McKillop hopes to have the memorial completed by 2026, the 25th anniversary of 9/11.