Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour

One of our family's favorite ways to explore the state of Iowa is by visiting the different county Iowa Freedom Rocks. All 99 counties in the state have a uniquely painted mural, showcasing local heroes and stories honoring area veterans painted by Iowa artist Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II. Here is a look at all of the county Freedom Rocks located in Central Iowa.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour

Greene County Freedom Rock, 601 E Lincoln Way, Jefferson, Iowa


Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Greene County, Jefferson

Located right on Lincoln Highway and next to the Racoon River Valley Trail, the Greene County Freedom Rock in Jefferson, Iowa is easy to find and is worth a stop when driving or biking through the area. On the front side of the rock facing Lincoln Highway is a tribute to Dwight D. Eisenhower who came through Jefferson as part of the 1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy. As a result of the many delays on this convoy and President Eisenhower's experience in seeing the Autobahn in Germany, he helped create our Interstate Highway System.

Local heroes also included on the rock are Loren Shriver, a former NASA astronaut & retired US Air Force Colonel and Tech Sergeant Bob Carmen who was a POW in Rome WWII. An interesting note about Tech Sgt Carmen's time as a prisoner was that he was able to sneak a note to the Pope who was inspecting the POWs. He asked him to write his mom telling her he was alive and the Pope did just that! He survived 27 months as a POW.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Greene County, Jefferson

When visiting the Greene County Freedom Rock, our family recommends stopping at Twiins Shoppe in town for some delicious ice cream!

Boone County Freedom Rock, 1098 W 3rd St, Boone, Iowa


Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Boone County, Boone

Located next to the Boone County Courthouse, this Freedom Rock pays tribute to the large National Guard base and presence in the community by featuring two local soldiers who served and died while fighting for our country, famous native Mamie Eisenhower and her husband President Dwight Eisenhower, and the importance of the railroad in Boone.

The next time you are exploring at the Ledges State Park or taking a train ride on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, make sure to make an extra stop to check out the Boone County Freedom Rock!

Story County Freedom Rock, corner of Trotter Blvd and 2nd St, Maxwell, Iowa


Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Story County, Maxwell

Located in the northeast corner of the Maxwell City Park and part of the Maxwell Veterans Memorial, the Story County Freedom Rock is a beautiful tribute to those who have served. On the side seen above is a tribute to Story County native Sergeant First Class Matthew Loren Rierson. His service in Somalia in 1993 was made famous by the book/movie "Blackhawk Down." He led efforts as part of the Army Rangers rescuing fallen soldiers and recovering bodies. He survived the two-day Battle of Mogadishu and then was killed by a mortar shell a couple days later.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Story County, Maxwell

The mural of the "Spirit 03" honors Maxwell native, Staff Sgt. Tim Harrison who was aboard the gunship during a battle in the first Gulf War. The aircraft was shot down and crashed in the Persian Gulf, losing all 14 of its members as it was trying to help some Marines that needed an enemy missile battery destroyed. I appreciated the added detail of the clouds that look like angel wings.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Story County, Maxwell

Our family also loved the side of the rock that honored those that have went on Honor/Freedom Flights. What a great program for our Veterans so they can go see their monuments in Washington D.C.

Marshall County Freedom Rock, 1301 S 6th St., Marshalltown, Iowa


Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Marshall County, Marshalltown

The Marshall County Freedom Rock is located next to the American Legion Golf Course in Marshalltown and honors Veterans from each war era, starting with WWI:

1Sgt. Frank Glick of Marshalltown served in the Marines during WWI and died in action as his company battled Germany. Admiral Frank Fletcher of Marshalltown seen above was in the Navy during WWII. He earned the Medal of Honor during the Battle of Veracruz. Private Harry Phipps is rumored to have lied so he could join the Army at the age of 16 and was killed in action in Korea. LCPL Darwin Judge was killed in action in the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon. SFC Scott Nisely was in the Army National guard and died from injuries sustained when his vehicle received fire during a security operation in Iraq. Before his service in Iraq, Nisely was an active duty Marine and then reservist who served in other places, including Dessert Storm. The Marshalltown Post Office, where he worked while serving in the National Guard, is now named after him.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Marshall County, Marshalltown

We were fortunate to visit the Marshall County Freedom Rock on Memorial Day and had an opportunity to walk down to the Memorial path to the Vietnam-era jet that is on display. An area Veteran is one of the men who flew the plane in action.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Marshall County, Marshalltown

Tama County Freedom Rock, Hwy 96, east of Gladbrook, Iowa


Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Tama County, Gladbrook

The Tama County Freedom Rock is located in the All Veterans Memorial along Highway 96. The front side of the rock, shown above, shows a procession of soldiers from the Civil War to present day.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Tama County, Gladbrook

The other side of the Freedom Rock pays tribute to the Meskwaki Code Talkers of WWII. Meskwaki men and other tribes were trained in their native languages to provide secure battlefield communication during WWII. In 2013 the Code Talkers were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their sacrifices. Much of their contributions and codes remained classified until 1968.

Poweshiek County Freedom Rock, 399 E Liberty St., Montezuma, Iowa


Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Poweshiek County, Montezuma

The Poweshiek County Freedom Rock is located next to the Poweshiek County Courthouse and shares the story of a few area veterans. Corporal Harold Keller of Brooklyn, shown above, witnessed both flag raisings on Mt. Suribachi and the mural depicts the "Gung Ho" picture taken after the second flag raising that features Keller.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Poweshiek County, Montezuma

Rear Admiral Thomas Cowie was from Montezuma and was awarded the Navy Cross for his services in connection with the Liberty Loans of WWI. He was also honored by having a destroyer USS Cowie named after him.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Poweshiek County, Montezuma

Captain Merlin Stoker served in the US Army and was heavily decorated receiving a silver star, three bronze stars, three purple hearts, the Presidential Unit citation, the combat infantry riflemen's badge and the French Croix de guerre, for exceptional bravery under fire during WWII.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Poweshiek County, Montezuma

The final side of the Freedom Rock shows Meskwaki leader Poweshiek, who the county is named after. Poweshiek was a "peaceful Indian" who possessed a "passion for justice".

Jasper County Freedom Rock, 380 7th Ave, Sully, Iowa


Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Jasper County, Sully

On the front side of the Jasper County Freedom Rock, Revolutionary War hero, Sgt. William Jasper is featured. While under attack by the British, the Liberty flag that Sgt. Jasper and his regiment were fighting under was shot down, and fell to the bottom of the ditch outside of their fort. Leaping from an opening, Jasper recovered the flag and supported it under intense enemy fire until a permanent flag staff was produced and installed. This rallying point inspired the Colonists to hold out until sunset, forcing the British to retreat.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Jasper County, Sully

I loved the imagery on the backside of the Freedom Rock that features a farmer and a soldier crouched, representing the citizen soldier. Above the men is a quote from President Washington: "When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen."

Polk County Freedom Rock, 315 2nd St. NW, Bondurant, Iowa

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Polk County, Bondurant

Located in front of the American Legion, the Polk County Freedom Rock's front side honors Iowa's fallen military men and women. The mural of members of our military from the Civil War through Iraq/Afghanistan carrying the casket of a recently fallen soldier is a powerful image.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Polk County, Bondurant

The backside of the Freedom Rock show a slight modification to the Iowa flag and includes all five branches of the military.

Dallas County Freedom Rock, 210 4th St, Minburn, Iowa


Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Dallas County, Minburn

The final Central Iowa Freedom Rock is Dallas County's, found in the town of Minburn. The front side shows the portraits of the Wilson brothers from rural Dallas County near Minburn. All five brothers served during during WWII. The three brothers who all went in the Army were all lost in plane crashes. The two brothers that joined the Navy came back home after the war. I was very honored to visit the Dallas County Freedom Rock after reading about the Wilson Brothers in the book, "Leora's Letters" by Joy Neal Kidney.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Dallas County, Minburn

The backside of the Freedom Rock shares the stories of two legendary athletes from Dallas County who both served our country. Nile Kinnick Jr. was born in Adel and was a student and college football player at the University of Iowa. He won the 1939 Heisman Trophy and while attending law school he left to enlist in the Naval Air Reserve. On June 2, 1943 during a routine training flight Kinnick's plane developed an oil leak so serious that he could neither reach land or the aircraft carrier. He followed standard military procedures and executed an emergency landing in the water but died in the process.

Robert William Andrew Feller was born in Van Meter and was nicknamed "The Heater from Van Meter", "Bullet Bob" and "Rapid Robert". He was a pitcher who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1941 and then from 1945 to 1956. He became the first professional athlete to enlist after hearing about the attacks on Pearl Harbor and served four years in the Navy during WWII as a Chief Petty Officer aboard the USS Alabama.

Central Iowa Freedom Rock Tour - Dallas County, Minburn

Visiting these Freedom Rock, along with others across the state is a great way to teach your children about the price of freedom, learn Iowa history and explore the state of Iowa. We love how each rock has a local connection and you can see the thought and time put into each design. It is also nice that most rocks are in towns off the beaten path and help you visit somewhere new. For a complete guide to all of the county Freedom Rock, check out this checklist. You can also check out our pictorial directory of all of the North Central Iowa Freedom Rocks and learn more about our home county, Franklin County's Freedom Rock on the blog.

Have you seen any of the Iowa Freedom Rocks? Which one do you recommend we road trip to next?

9 comments:

  1. Thank you, Val. What a timely, lovely tribute. Bubba Sorenson is a true innovator, artist, educator. I knew of the one off I80 on state 25 headed to Greenfield. Every time I get back, I'm anxious to see his new rendition. Now I know of more Freedom Rocks! Thanks!!

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    1. Thank you! And yes, you'll have to look out for more while driving through the state. The original Freedom Rock in Iowa is the only one that is repainted annually.

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  2. Thank you, Val, for this remembrance especially before Memorial Day. The photo you sent me with your family will be part of "Freedom Rock Selfies" in my May 25 blog post! Thanks for sharing that with me, and for the mention of "Leora's Letters." I'm so thankful people are getting acquainted with my courageous litte Grandma Leora.

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    1. Love it! Be sure to tweet me or let me know when you share your Freedom Rock Selfies. We loved visiting the Dallas County Freedom Rock and I have truly enjoyed reading your book and learning more about your family through your Grandma Leora.

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  3. What a fantastic post! I love honoring our vets and really appreciate these memorials.

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