Mercy Nurse’s Project Serves to Honor Veterans

May 23, 2024

Veterans hold a special place in Dianne Minney-Gammill’s heart.

Mercy nurse Dianne is part of a family full of military veterans. A few years ago, she decided to honor them and other veterans with a display of photos at Mercy Clinic Oncology – Fort Smith.

What began as one wall of photos at the clinic has since grown into a hallway full of veterans’ photos.

Mercy doctor's coat Clint Hyman's photo - where he "looks like Elvis" - hangs on the veterans honor wall at Mercy Clinic Oncology - Fort Smith.

“We were just decorating for Memorial Day and putting up our families’ pictures on the wall. We didn’t want to take them down after we put it up. Everybody said, ‘Don’t take that down!’ – so we left it up year-round,” Dianne said. 

The veterans are patients, patients’ family members, co-workers and their families and more. They represent every branch of the military and include numerous war veterans.

“Nobody knows their stories,” Dianne said. “My dad was the baby of five, and all of them were in the service. And my brother and sister are in the service.”

One veteran represented on the wall is Clint Hyman, 94, the last surviving member of the original 188th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Fort Smith, where he was the audio-visual services manager. 

Drafted into the Army in 1952 during the Korean War, Clint retired in 1985 after doing “just about everything,” including serving with the 101st First Airborne division in the Army and performing as a religious counselor for the 53rd regiment. He also was affiliated with Army intelligence and even worked with the CIA during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

“I’ve had a very interesting life,” he said.

Clint, a Van Buren resident, was born in Nebraska, although his family was originally from Charleston and Lavaca. They left the area during the great flood of 1927, when “they lost everything, except for an old car.” They wound up in Nebraska but returned in 1943, just in time for another major flood in Arkansas, when his father got a job at Camp Chaffee during World War II.

Like Dianne, Clint also had family members who were veterans, including five uncles who all served during WWII. Clint said he appreciates being recognized for his service.

“It’s a real honor,” he said. “My barber had a wall of honor because his father had been in the 101st Airborne, and I had my picture there. Then, when I came over here to Mercy, they had one. That’s just really neat. You don’t see a lot of that detail and attention to the veterans.”

Mercy FS Memorial Day nurse-patient2 edited Dianne Minney-Gammill began the veterans honor wall at Mercy to honor family members and co-workers, but it has since grown to include patients (including Clint Hyman), patients' family members and others.

Dianne said some veterans initially don’t want to be recognized with a photo on the wall, “and we don’t push – but then they come back later and say, ‘Will you take my picture and put it on the wall?’”

Traci Snell, executive director of oncology services at Mercy Fort Smith, said Dianne’s efforts fit into Mercy’s mission to treat patients with dignity.

“Many of the veterans will tear up when they come back and see the walls,” she said. “Dianne has made the honor wall her own project. She takes the veterans’ photos, prints them off and pays to have them framed. She loves that we can honor them in this way.”

The hallway at the clinic is filling up quickly, but Dianne said she is happy to continue to put up veterans’ photos. “We’ll find a spot for them,” she said.