Three names, Joseph D. Early, Adam John Forbes and Baron Maxwell Klein are engraved on a wall.

Names of three Laker veterans inscribed on GVSU Memorial Garden wall; ceremony held to honor them

A ceremony in the GVSU Memorial Garden honored the lives and service of three Laker veterans whose names are now engraved on the stone wall in the wooded garden behind Cook-DeWitt Center.

The gathering on May 24 honored Joseph Early, who served in the U.S. Army, Adam Forbes, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard and Baron Klein, who served in the U.S. Army.

Loved ones of the veterans and the GVSU community attended. They gathered to observe the memorial wall before hearing remarks commemorating the students who made the ultimate sacrifice.

First image: A person in a military uniform stands next to a car with "military police" on the side. Second image: A person smiles while looking at the camera. Third image: A person wearing sunglasses and with a crowd in the background smiles while looking at the camera.
From left: Joseph Early, Adam Forbes and Baron Klein
Image credit - Courtesy photos

President Philomena V. Mantella and Shane Scherer, director of the Military and Veterans Resource Center, both talked about the importance of veterans to GVSU and the respect and appreciation in the Grand Valley community for both the Lakers being honored and their loved ones. 

"This event today serves as a poignant reminder of the gratitude we owe those who protect our freedoms and uphold our values in our nation," Mantella said. "This memorial will offer space not just on Memorial Day, but every day for reflection and to always honor the legacy of our veterans and the impact they have made in our personal lives in the United States."

Scherer said the additions to the memorial wall were the fulfillment of a vision of Steven Lipnicki, a former assistant dean of students who championed military resources for students.

"Your presence is a testament to the profound impact these individuals had on the community and the enduring legacy they leave behind," Scherer said.

A person standing at a podium with a GVSU logo gestures with one hand while looking off to the side and speaking. Three flags are to the person's right.
President Philomena V. Mantella honored the veterans and their sacrifice during remarks.
A person wraps their arm around a child, whose eyes are closed, as others look on somberly.
Family members of Adam Forbes, his wife Holly, right, and their daughter Chelsea, among others gather to honor three student veterans at the GVSU Memorial Garden.
A person is seen from the side with an American flag in the foreground.
Shane Scherer, director of the Military and Veterans Resource Center, spoke at the ceremony.

Early's father, Tim Early, remembered his son as a "gentle giant" who was widely loved. He was also an avid golfer who once shot a hole in one.

He said his son attended Grand Valley after serving in Iraq. While at GVSU, Joseph Early was encouraged to write about his experiences.

"He wrote a short story about a fire battle and if anyone wants to know what it's like to be a soldier in combat, read those five pages," Tim Early said.

As Holly Forbes remembered her husband, Adam Forbes, she stood not too far from the Cook Carillon Tower, where he had proposed to her. They met while undergraduates at Grand Valley.

Their daughter Chelsea, who also attended, recalled her father as "very nice and helpful and very open minded." Holly Forbes smiled as she listened to her daughter's remembrances, telling her, "Those are good ones."

"That was a big thing. Everyone said he was always willing to help others in any way he could," Holly Forbes said. "He definitely wanted to do more – because he was a reservist in the Coast Guard – so he ended up going to Afghanistan for a little bit."

She added: "Grand Valley is a big part of our lives together."

A person holds their hand to a stone wall. Their reflection is seen on the other side.
Samantha Butcher, '16, '18, holds a hand over the engraved name of Joseph Early during a student veteran tribute May 24. Butcher was president of Student Veterans of America during their time at GVSU and helped establish the Joseph Early Emergency Relief Fund.


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