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Freedom Rock Unveiling

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Decatur County Freedom Rock was unveiled Wednesday, April 22, by ceremoniously removing the large tent covering it with local Veterans and Boy Scouts being among the first to view it.

Even though it was rainy, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II and the rock were covered and comfortable under a tent in order to complete it on schedule.

The third Freedom Rock so far this year and 28th overall across the state, Decatur County’s Freedom Rock is a piece to behold. Focused on thanking all of our Veterans and remembering our POW/MIA/KIA take up three side of this rock, but that is just part of the story, expressed Sorensen.

The front side of the rock is a thank you to all Veterans who’ve served across the rich history of our country, with soldiers from the Revolutionary War, WWII and the War on Terror.

Portrayed is a group of soldiers running with a female soldier carrying our flag and a WWII soldier and Revolutionary soldier with their rifles. In the background are an aircraft carrier, sub, helicopter and jet. This image expresses a dramatic scene of a group of military from different aspects as if they are running toward danger to defend our country.

The back side is a large but subtle representation of the POW/MIA logo, to articulate the message, “They are never forgotten.”
The remaining side (north) is a soldier’s cross with an eagle coming to rest on the helmet with a ribbon in its beak that has the saying “All gave some, some gave all,” honoring those we’ve lost serving our country.

The Korean War, often called “The Forgotten War,” is represented in the form of a dedication to D. Darrell Johnston. The south side is to say thank you to a Veteran with roots in Decatur County, as Sorensen likes to highlight specific stories in the hopes it will inspire more Veterans to tell their stories.

The Veteran chosen was M/Sgt. D. Darrell Johnston who fought in the Korean War, who served with valor in Korea earning a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart taking a heavily defended hill under withering enemy fire. 

Part of his citation reads: “...Sergeant Johnston unhesitatingly exposed himself to the deadly enemy fire, charging boldly toward the critical enemy position and firing his weapon with extreme accuracy. He then unleashed a barrage of grenades and returned to friendly elements to replenish his depleted supply of ammunition. He advanced on the enemy bunker once again and destroyed it, thus enabling his comrades to continue the attack and ultimately secure the objective.”

For a list of complete counties booked for the Tour and locations of already existing Freedom Rocks, visit

The following is a note from Sorensen... “PS I promised I’d drop this in the description of this rock, but it is for all past and future Freedom Rocks as well. Each Freedom Rock I paint, I sign “The (Town that it is in) Freedom Rock”.This doesn’t mean that is the official name, as I encourage each one to name it after their county, it is more so people know where that one sits. A lot of people that visit are not from the state of Iowa and there are many county names and town names that are the same and are no where near each other. So to try and avoid some confusion I signed each one and label each one on my website with the town name. This is not meant to hurt the feelings of the other towns in each county, it is just how I started and how I will finish the tour. I am not looking for suggestions on this, rather this is just an explanation of how and why it is done that way. Thanks for understanding.”

Bubba was originally going to put Stephen Decatur on the rock. Decatur was instrumental in 1812 in beginning the naval army. However, even though the County was named after him he was never here. And there is already a mural of him in the Courthouse on the third floor.

A committee that was formed thought it should be someone that was born here, lived here, served here, etc.
Bubba’s goal in each county is to try and find  someone in each county to honor such as this.

Bubba thought Johnston’s story was fitting. Not only did Johnston serve his country, he served the whole County with his plumbing business when he returned home.

Again, the committee wants to reiterate that they know that there are many that served and deserve to be honored and we hope that the whole rock symbolizes that.

There will be a formal dedication of the Decatur County Freedom Rock on Sunday, May 24 at 4:00 p.m. on the courthouse lawn.