Residents of Middlesboro who don’t know Mike Marcum have likely seen him riding around town on sunny days in his 1953 Korean War era Army Jeep. Marcum was born and raised in Middlesboro and stays very active within the community. It is his hometown and said he is proud of Middlesboro.
He has many fond memories of growing up in Middlesboro. Of his school days he says, “All the schools were right in town and at lunchtime everyone mingled together. After school we would go down to the Woolworths, Scotts or Lee’s or somewhere and just hung-out.”
After graduating from Middlesboro High School, Marcum was drafted. At 19 years old he was sent to Vietnam. Wounded twice during his service, he returned to Middlesboro, and went to work in the coal mines. After 21 years at the mines he went to work for the Post Office until he retired.
Marcum was a catalyst in bringing the moving Vietnam veterans memorial wall to Middlesboro in 2013. The wall was setup at the Middlesboro city parking lot and was open to the public 24 hours a day for the duration of it’s stay.
“I had bringing the wall here in my mind for a long time,” said Marcum. ” Middlesboro High School used to be where city hall is now and most of them had attended school there — played on that playground, so to have the wall there at the city parking lot was like bringing our boys home. All the local veterans pitched in and the city and county got involved to make it happen.”
When the moving wall is eventually retired, Marcum hopes it can be acquired by Middlesboro for permanent display in the city.
Marcum has been involved with veterans in the area for many years and is a member of the Tri-State Vietnam Veterans.
The group is currently working to erect a World War II memorial monument at the Middlesboro City Park. The monument will be dedicated to the men and women of Bell County, Claiborne County, Tenn. and Lee County, Va. — both civilian and military who served our nation and the world in World War II. It will be placed among other monuments dedicated to wars already in the park. The group placed a Vietnam monument near the fountain in 1998.
“The reason behind the memorial is to honor not only the soldiers, but ‘Rosie the Riveter’ too,” he said. “We want to acknowledge the greatest generation who gave so much overseas and at home.”
Marcum and the Tri-State Vietnam Veterans are also actively seeking information and photos on World War II veterans who hail from the Tri- State area, but might have left in the “great migration.”
“Any sons or grandsons out there — let us know about that veteran,” said Marcum. “These folks moved away, so their records don’t list Middlesboro and it is really hard for us to find them all.”
He said he likes to golf, he is an avid re-loader, marksman and a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan.
For more information on Tri-State Vietnam Veterans, their projects, or to make a donation contact the groups president Larry Thacker at (606) 499-4277
Reach William Tribell at 606 302-9100 or on Twitter @wtribellmdn