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Missing plaque honoring soldier killed in action reappears

Lake Forest Wednesday 05.22.13. A plaque dedicated SGT Richard Scott McFarlis shown Wednesday May 22 2013 outside entrance Fort Sheridan

Lake Forest Wednesday 05.22.13. A plaque dedicated to SGT Richard Scott McFarland is shown on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, outside the entrance at the Fort Sheridan Cemetery in Lake Forest. The plaque is fastened to a large rock. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 27, 2013 3:03AM

He was born in Washington, D.C., grew up in a military family and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, a casualty of the Vietnam War.

But U.S. Army Sgt. Richard Scott McFarland put down some roots in Lake County in the late 1960s, when his family was stationed at Fort Sheridan. His name would become part of the landscape following his death, thanks to a memorial plaque placed on the fort’s golf course:

“In loving memory, Sgt. Richard Scott McFarland, KIA in Vietnam, November 9, 1969.”

That small, modest plaque would be quietly removed when the course was closed in 2004, and it just as quietly returned this spring when Lake County Forest Preserve officials placed it on a stone near the new public entrance to the Fort Sheridan Cemetery.

“It’s right at the entrance to the public trail off the parking lot, relatively close to where it was before,” said Mike Tully, the forest preserve’s director of operations. “Apparently, it was on a wooden post on a fairway, and it was removed when the course was closed. (Our) intention was to replace it when the golf course was redeveloped.”

With that redevelopment plan never coming to fruition, Tully said the plaque was brought out of storage at the request of either the Army or someone associated with McFarland. While the passage of four decades has clouded some details, Tully added that “we do know that he was stationed at Fort Sheridan and enjoyed playing golf there.”

According to information from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and accounts published at the time of his death, McFarland was born in December 1947 to Richard and Grace McFarland.

McFarland went to high school in Ohio and enrolled at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania before enlisting in the Army in July 1967. He became a Special Forces medic and went to Vietnam in April 1969.

McFarland was killed in the Quang Duc Province when his Ben Het Special Forces Camp came under siege. At the time of his death, his parents were quartered at Fort Sheridan, living at 181 MacArthur Loop.

Today, Richard Scott McFarland’s name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, and Tully said the hope is that more people will see the plaque in his memory at Fort Sheridan.

“It’s off Sheridan Road, just north of the main entrance to (the Town of Fort Sheridan),” Tully said. “There’s a small parking lot for trail access near the cemetery, and anyone going to use the trail from that point will see the plaque, whereas before, it would only have been golfers on the fairway.”

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