Zionsville student builds World War II memorial for Pearl Harbor survivor

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ZIONSVILLE, Ind. – A new memorial sits in the halls of Zionsville High School, just in time for the start of the 2017-2018 school year. A display case, built by an incoming senior, shows war memorabilia from a man who served in the Army during World War II.

Harley Guynn was on the U.S.S. Maryland when Pearl Harbor was attacked, but according to Zionsville history teacher David Rogers, Guynn didn’t even have a scratch when the attack was over.

After the war, Guynn went on to sell insurance and took part in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and a similar organization for the men on the battleship. Through those, Guynn was given a piece of the Maryland’s deck, a replica bell designed like that on the battleship, and other apparel.

Besides selling insurance, Guynn also traveled around Indiana and spoke at schools about the war and the things he experienced.

“He was barely older than them on Pearl Harbor and he would emphasize that when he would talk to our students,” said Rodgers.

Guynn grew up in Madison, Ind., and while he had been to many Indiana schools, he developed a bond with the teachers at ZHS.

The veteran met Rodgers and another history teacher, Henry Nolan, when the three were part of an Indy Honor Flight. “Harley went on one of those trips with us,” Rodgers explained. “We had a special bond because of that, which is why I think he felt so connected to Zionsville High School.”

Guynn passed away in early 2016, but a couple years before, he had asked the two history teachers and other schools to accept his war items as a gift, on the condition that they be put on display and be used to help teach Zionsville high school students about the war.

That’s what got Jake Strachen involved. By the time he was entering his freshman year, Strachan was looking for an Eagle Project to finish up his work to become an Eagle Scout through Zionsville Boy Scout Troop 358.

“An Eagle Project needs to show you can hold leadership in the troop, you’re active in your troop, and give back to the community,” Strachan said.

The Zionsville student raised more than a thousand dollars through a GoFundMe fundraiser, which was more than he needed to get the case together. He’s taking the leftover money and donating it to the American Legion.

Over his most recent spring break, Strachan began getting the case together. Then when the school year ended in May, he along with friends and other scouts finished the work.

“I want them to remember what they’ve sacrificed and what they’ve gone through to protect us, and to help ensure that we never forget these sacrifices,” said Strachan.

Strachan currently is a Life Scout, but will become an Eagle Scout in the next couple of months, once all the behind-the-scene work is finalized.

Students return to school in Zionsville on Tuesday, August 8.

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