The Shelby County Freedom Rock is located in the small town of Earling, Iowa. Earling is a small town in western Iowa, about 20 miles north of Interstate 80. Painted by Iowa artist Ray ‘Bubba’ Sorensen, each Rock is unique to the county it sits in.
The Shelby County Freedom Rock has four sides, each depicting a special way of honoring our veterans and heroes — the sides are the Volunteer, Church, Military and Flag.
The “Volunteer” side (right side of photo, below) honors the county’s 200+ members of the Shelby County Fire & Rescue. Shelby County recognizes the sacrifices these men and women make 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by running into harms way instead of running away from it. Specifically, this side features Firefighter Mike Collins, who lost his life in the line of duty in 2011. In addition to firefighter, the County recognizes all volunteers, including law enforcement and EMS workers for their dedication and service.
The “Church” side (left side of photo below) depicts the tall beautiful St. Joseph’s Church you can see when coming into town. Sitting on top of a hill, it sits prominently in town. Making sure this church was included on the rock is the county’s way of thanking God for the freedom of religion. Also featured on the church side is a combine and corn field, symbolizing Iowa’s amazing agricultural background.
The “Flag” side represents the ultimate emblem of our country, the American flag. In this mural of the flag, artist Ray Sorensen mixed sand from Iwo Jima into the paint, honoring the extreme bravery of our troops. Also included in the flag is the American Legion emblem, representing the 300+ members in Shelby County.
The “Military” side features a picture of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Finken. Lt. Col. Finken was from Earling. In 2006, he was killed in action in Baghdad. Also listed on the blue portion of the rock are seven other Shelby County soldiers that gave their lives for our country. These men include:
- Sgt Daniel Noehren (Shelby) – 1/22/1951 – Noehren died while a POW in Korea and his remains were never recovered.
- PFC Mathias Leinen (Portsmouth) – 9/1/1951 – killed in action while fighting the enemy in North Korea.
- SP4 Duane Olson (Irwin) – 6/11/1969 – killed in action in Vietnam
- PFC William Kleffman (Portsmouth) – 4/7/1970, died in the line of duty in Vietnam
- CPL John Stinn (Panama) – 5/15/1970 – died of wounds while serving in Cambodia
- Master Sgt Allan Pittman (Shelby) – 4/4/1978 – Pittman was MIA while serving in Vietnam, and his body was never recovered.
- Major Gary Scull (Harlan) – 10/6/1978 – MIA while serving in Vietnam. His body was never recovered.
- Lieutenant Col. Paul Finken (Earling) – 11/2/2006, killed in action in Baghdad.
Here is an actual photo of St. Joseph’s Church. This church sits up so high in town, I had a hard time taking a photo of it!
Make sure to look for other Freedom Rocks I have visited and written about. You can also look for #FreedomRocks2016 on Twitter and Instagram.