Whenever Don Kochevar visits Woodlawn Cemetery in Joliet, he always stops at the grave of Stanley Trygg Jr., a Vietnam veteran.
“More often than not, I put a flag there,” said Kochevar, of Shorewood. “And then people take it.”
Kochevar, 83, served in the Navy from 1956 to 1962 but did not serve with Trygg because Trygg served in 1970, Kochevar said. So that’s not why Kochevar takes care of Trygg’s grave.
That’s because Kochevar, a civil engineer who worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said he met Trygg’s father, Stanley Trygg Sr., whenever the former Crown-Trygg Corporation” worked for us.”
“With the Crown-Trygg paving, I knew I was going to get a top-notch job,” Kochevar said. “They were one of the best asphalt contractors around.”
Sometimes Stanley Sr. brought his son to the job site with him, Kochevar said.
“He was a little younger when I saw him,” Kochevar said. “When he arrived at work with his father, he was riding a bicycle. And he was just rolling this thing, and he was just watching stuff. He was young, probably early in high school.
Kochevar studied civil engineering in college and then worked on Interstate 80 until it opened to traffic, he said.
“I worked Black Road from six corners to the gravel road at that time, which is called Larkin Avenue,” Kochevar said. “I worked on Jefferson Street all the way to the airport. I have been here a long time.
Young Trygg began his tour on August 28, 1970 and was killed in action on November 14, 1970, Kochevar said.
Trygg was 23 years old.
“All of a sudden he was gone,” Kochevar said. “The father, Stanley Sr. – he was never the same again. He was going to eventually hand the business over to his son, and that just didn’t happen.
About 15 years ago, Kochevar traveled to Washington DC with his son and grandson. Kochevar visited several monuments: the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial and the Vietnam Wall.
And there was Trygg.
On the wall: panel W-6, line 61.
Someone Kochevar personally knew as a child was on that wall.
“I could barely contain myself – going to that sign and seeing it,” Kochevar said. “It’s still difficult for me today. My emotions come out in my eyes.
This made Kochevar wonder – how many people from Joliet are actually on that wall?
A 2007 Herald-News article reported that 19 Joliet residents were pictured on the Movable Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Ten years ago, Kochevar came across a poem he believes he wrote to Trygg. Kochevar was attending a funeral near Trygg’s grave and came across it.
“Right at the bottom of where he is buried is this poem, etched in granite stone,” Kochevar said. “I thought it was a hell of a poem written just before the guy died. Of course he didn’t know he was going to die. He was just boots on the ground in Vietnam for a few months. He didn’t didn’t fight very long. He didn’t last very long there.
Kochevar thinks everyone should read this poem. Here is the poem:
“Love is an event of the mind that enriches the soul.
“Love taunts, fills, enriches and hurts the body and the spirit.
“Love is the most creative emotion that God has given to his children.
“Love is the basic ingredient of peace.
“Love is all I want, all I need and all I wish to bestow on my neighbour.”