Uncertainty remains for push to add Cape Girardeau WWII general - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Uncertainty remains for push to add Cape Girardeau WWII general to river wall

(Source: KFVS 12) (Source: KFVS 12)

Support is growing to add a portrait of a Heartland WWII general to the Cape Girardeau River Wall but the project’s uncertainty remains.

Gen. Seth McKee was a four star general and Air Force retiree.

McKee flew fighter planes on D-Day in support of ground troops and was later commander in chief of NORAD.

He was born in Arkansas but grew up in Cape Girardeau. McKee graduated from Cape Central High School in 1938 and went on to receive his degree at Southeast Missouri State University.

McKee passed away at the age 100 at his Arizona home last December.

He died as the highest ranking D-Day survivor, according to The Arizona Republic.

Now family, friends, and veteran’s group is pushing to have McKee’s image added to the Missouri Wall of Fame in downtown Cape Girardeau.

For Tony Koeller, it's been nearly two-year effort. He first pursued the idea in 2014 after talking with McKee's family.

“From talking with his family they wanted to honor him,” Koeller said. “They wanted to see if they could get him on the river wall, and I said ‘that shouldn’t be hard.’”

But Koeller quickly found out, it was not as easy as it sounded.

Questions of whether the wall should be amended and who should pay for it remain.

Marla Mills, executive director for Old Town Cape, says the organization is responsible for the wall’s maintenance but it’s unclear if adding a new portrait is an option.

“There is definitely room for an open discussion. There is just not a guideline for what we can do,” Mills said.

She says funding to first paint murals came from the River Heritage Mural Association.

But when that group disbanded, Old Town Cape took over the walls care.

Mills says the group left money for maintenance but beyond that there’s still uncertainty where funds should come from.

“The general has a lot of respect. There are a lot of reasons he’s been honored. We want to respect him as well.”

It would be a collaborative decision from Old Town Cape, the city, and the Army Corps. of Engineers who own the wall.

Friends and family of McKee say the honor is long overdue and they'd like to see something done.

"Now it's doing something phenomenal about him for his family,” Koeller said. “His wife is still alive, his three sons are still living in the area, nieces, nephews in Cape. I think it would be a great honor for him for his family."

American Legion Post 63 is backing the effort. They presented a resolution to the Cape Girardeau City Council supporting the addition of McKee to the wall.

Old Town Cape is meeting with groups involved behind the push. In the next few weeks there should be a clearly picture of how everyone should proceed.

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