Medal of Honor recipients mural must find new home. 

April 3, 2022

Medal of Honor recipients mural must find new home. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — The owners of the building located at 301 S. James St. have asked the Mason County Historical Society remove a mural that pays tribute to two local heroes. 

The mural, titled “Medal of Honor Recipients: Ludington’s Own” is a 16-feet by 36-feet mural painted by artist Terry Dickinson of Kingsley and installed in July 2004. The mural honors two of Ludington’s Congressional Medal of Honor recipients; Charles H. DePuy and William R. Charette.

The building, owned by PJP Holdings of Ludington, is located on the southeast corner of South James Street and East Filer Street. The mural is located on the north side of the building, facing Filer Street. PJP Holdings also recently purchased the former service station located at 302 S. James Street, on the southwest corner of Jame and Filer streets. That building was razed last year. According to Kelly Parker of PJP Holdings, the building is scheduled for repairs and renovations, which include the installation of windows on the north side, which means the mural will no longer fit on the side of the building. 

“The sign will be removed, and possibly relocated by the Historical Society, for the purpose of building renovation,” Parker said. “The sign may not return to this location as windows are to be installed in its place. A prominent South James Street building, 301 S James, has been neglected and the city will benefit from its rehabilitation and future tenants.”

“In 2014, when the Ludington Mural Society dissolved, the murals were turned over to the care of the Mason County Historical Society,” said Rebecca Berringer, executive of the historical society. “Since then, the Society has cared for the 10 Ludington murals and continues to provide regular maintenance to protect against UV damage.”

The painting of the “Heroes” mural was sponsored by Argue Communications, Amvets, and veteran friends.

Charles DePuy was a United States Army First Sergeant, in Company H, First Michigan Sharpshooters. His courageous act above and beyond the call of duty occurred on July 30, 1864, at the bloody battle at Petersburg, Va., during the Civil War. DePuy, a former artilleryman, and an officer manned guns in the face of fierce enemy fire and saved countless Union lives. DePuy was born on September 8, 1842, in Sherman, Wexford County, Michigan and lived and worked for many years in Ludington.

Ludington native, William Richard Charette, born on March 29, 1932, was a United States Navy Hospital Corpsman, third class assigned to Company F, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, when on March 27, 1953, in the Panmujom Corridor (Demilitarized Zone), during the Korean War, his unit came under intense attack. Charette forever distinguished himself in 18 hours of combat by courageously tending to wounded and dying Marines while under heavy grenade, machine gun, and rifle attacks. In one instance, he threw himself upon a wounded comrade, shielding him from an exploding grenade which ripped into Charette’s own body. Despite his wounds, Charette unfailingly exposed himself to enemy fire and continuously aided Marines in his and other nearby platoons throughout the fighting. The portrait of Charette on the mural is based on a photograph taken just moments after he received his medal, on January 12, 1954. On May 26, 1958, aboard the guided-missile cruiser, USS Canberra, Charette was given the honor of selecting the Unknown Soldier from World War II. His selection rests in the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. Charette retired as master chief hospital corpsman following a distinguished career in the Navy.

“The Mason County Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the history of our veterans and seeks to find a new home where the heroic stories of DePuy and Charette can continue to be shared,” Berringer said. “War is tragic, yet in the darkest moments, courage and love for one’s fellow man shine through as a beacon of hope in a time of immense tragedy. That is the story of Charles DePuy and William Charette. I would hate for their heroic examples of a life lived with courage to no longer be on display.”

“Remembering and celebrating all heroes from our past is important to our community, our state, and our nation,” said United States Navy, Vietnam combat veteran, Dr. Rick Plummer, former executive director of the historical society and former professor and director of performing arts at West Shore Community College. “Our freedoms and values are protected by courageous men and women from our Armed Forces. These heroes give us hope for the future and shine light on the paths we should follow to insure our shared ideals.”

Berringer said the historical society is dedicated to finding a new home for the the mural, which has to come down this spring. 

“If a new home is not found by the time the mural needs to come down, it will be crated and stored until a future home becomes available,” she said. “We really would like the mural to stay in downtown Ludington where it is easily accessible for people to view. It has been there for 18 years now, and that is where it belongs.” said James Jensen, president of the historical society.

Anyone who owns property downtown who may wish to host the mural should contact Berringer, at rebecca@mchshistory.org or 231-843-4808. 

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