Bridgeview honors resident who died in Vietnam 50 years ago


By Kristin Salgado (Article appeared in Desplaines Valley News on November 16, 2017)

"He was a boy just like the rest of us," said Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek.  "He played baseball, went to the same schools as us, grew up like us."

Landek spoke of Edwin Rudolph Wierzba, a Marine veteran and Bridgeview native who was killed in 1968 in Vietnam when he was 20 years old. Wierzba Park at 78th and Oketo in Bridgeview was dedicated to him shortly after his death. On Veterans Day this year, a ceremony was held to re-dedicate the park in his name.

The ceremony brought a crowd of area residents and veterans together to honor the local hero, who was the first local fatality of the Vietnam War. Those in attendance not only got to hear speeches from guests and dignitaries, but also a lesson in history and the importance of the flag and what it means to our country.

Bridgeview Park Commissioner and a Marine veteran Joe Mazarka delivered some heartfelt words.
"I want to offer a three-word phrase to Eddie that he never got to hear, ‘Welcome home brother’," Mazarka said referring to the reception many Vietnam veterans never received upon returning home.

Members of the Wierzba family were present and shared their gratitude with all veterans saying they valued everyone who has served our country. The family placed a wreath at the dedication site and received a U.S. flag from U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski.

Lipinski said Wierzba loved baseball, his dog, math, and he was always a hard worker who had one of the largest paper routes. Today, Wierzba Park is the most extensively used open land in Bridgeview.

"It’s been almost 50 years since Edwin passed, but we still remember him, we are still talking about him, we are still honoring the service of a local kid from Bridgeview 50 years later," Landek said. "And in 50 more years we will re-dedicate the park and honor him again."

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