West Virginia man honors late father with Ash Tree carving memorial

The carving ties back to family heritage

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - About 12 years ago Randel Swanson bought an ash tree that came all the way from army general and president Dwight Eisenhower’s house in Kansas to honor his father, Conrad Swanson, Who was a world war two veteran.

"He was a b-29 pilot. He was stationed in Guam and Saipan and he flew a lot of missions in Japan," Swanson said.

For years, the ash tree flourished but then took a turn for the worse when it was eaten up by emerald ash bohrer, a parasite that came from overseas. Instead of completely getting rid of the tree he decided to carve it into a memorial honoring his father and family heritage.

“I wanted to keep it as a memorial and I thought over the winter, ‘What am I going to do with this,’ and so, I started in February, carving it and I wanted to incorporate a lot of our family heritage.We happen to be Vikings from Sweden,” Swanson said.

They say you don’t know who you are until you go back to your roots, so when Swanson was working on this memorial, he made sure that every single detail tied back to where his family came from.

The sweetish crown which is on the top starts with the cross and that’s all one carving from the piece down. I just chiseled it, so it starts from the cross that signifies Christianity and goes down to the American flag heritage,” Swanson said.

Calling it the lieutenant Conrad Swanson Memorial Tree and even placing pictures of his father while in the war too.

That was the whole purpose of planting it in the beginning, was to honor him and which I do every single day.  And I’m grateful and thankful for all that he did for me and my family and my children,” Swanson said.

Swanson says he started the project in February and was finished by Memorial Day.


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