Family to National Guard: 'Don’t touch' fallen soldier’s memorial plaque

Family to National Guard: 'Don’t touch' fallen soldier’s memorial plaque »Play Video

CLACKAMAS, Ore. -- Family and friends of Spc. Brandon Tobler, the first soldier from Oregon to die during the Iraq War, are concerned his memory isn’t being honored appropriately. They’re worried about possible plans to remove a memorial plaque.

“It really upsets me,” said Tobler’s uncle, Scott Tom. “If there’s something broken, fix it, but leave the plaque where it is because that’s where we love it.”

The family was happy to see the plaque move when Tobler’s Army Reserve unit moved to Camp Withycombe, which is Oregon National Guard property. Tobler’s family attended a re-dedication ceremony in August and appreciated the gesture, but now they’re learning the Oregon National Guard has been negotiating with the Army Reserve for a month to take it down or move it.

Brandon Tobler’s mom Gail said she never heard anything about this from military personnel.

“Not happy,” she said. “Don’t touch it. Don’t take it away.” 

The Oregon National Guard calls it a miscommunication.

“Unfortunately, these discussions didn’t take place prior [to the re-dedication ceremony],” said the National Guard Spokesperson, Stephen Bomar. “Apologies if it upset the family in any way.”

Bomar didn’t directly answer questions about why there are negotiations to move the plaque at all until KATU continued to ask. He eventually said there is concern the Army Reserve may move from the building where the plaque is dedicated. The building belongs to the National Guard.

“It's the National Guard versus the Army Reserves, there's always been tension there,” said former soldier Kim Kennedy, who was in Spc. Brandon Tobler’s unit when he died in 2003. “They won't freely admit that, but there's always been tension.”

Bomar said the military entities are working together with only one focus. 

“At times we disagree, but ultimately we're all in it to memorialize this soldier, no matter what.”

Since KATU began looking into this story, the National Guard decided to put plans to move the plaque on hold and set up a meeting to discuss it further on Wednesday morning. Bomar also said they are reaching out to the Tobler family for more input.

“I do accept the apology,” Gail Tobler said. “I just hope this gets resolved in the right way.”