EL RENO, Oklahoma -

The El Reno school district is rededicating its football stadium 70 years after it was built.

The memorial originated from a special research project in Brian Rukes' class. 
 
"It was something that was going to help them learn about their family, their history, their community and really to take pride in El Reno," said Rukes.
 
"What's the date on the back of there?" asked Madison Bollinger to her former classmate Everaro Solis. 
 
The pair was some of the first students in Rukes' research project. Two years later, they sat down with News 9 to talk about their experience. 
 
"History books can't tell you everything," said Bollinger. 
 
The goal was exactly that: study the thousands of El Reno high school graduates that didn't make it into the books. Today, class pictures dating back to the 1800s hang in various halls of the high school. 
 
Solis covered Lela Ankney. Two years ago, Ankney visited the high school. At that point, she was 103 years old. 
 
"I got to talk to Lela about things in her life like how she lived through the actual great depression," said Solis. 
 
Bollinger had several family members she studied, including her aunt and grandma. 
 
"There were a lot of memories that were brought up when doing this," said Bollinger. 
 
But the whole project changed in January 2018, when an article caught the attention of one of Rukes' students. 
 
"He knew that it had his person's name in it, and I was like, 'Oh, that's really cool, but then it had the 37 other names,'" said Rukes. 
 
They learned those names were the inspiration for the district's football field, Memorial Stadium. Originally, there were 38 men who served in World War II, who gave their lives in military service and, at one point, were students in El Reno.
 
"They never put a plaque on the stadium, and my initial thought was we have to do something with this," said Rukes. 
 
Rukes' class shifted their focus and started studying the original 38. 
 
During their research, the group found six others that fit the criteria. The list ended up growing from 38 to the final number, 44. 
 
Now, 70 years later, the school has planned a special ceremony to rededicate the stadium.
 
On October 4, the district is expecting family members related to the 44 men, community members and current students to be in El Reno. A memorial will be unveiled, permanently marking the field and letting future El Reno residents know why the stadium bears the name Memorial Field. 
 
"A big part of what we are doing is reaching out to the community," said Rukes.
 
The district is hoping current residents learn about the 44 and help the district celebrate their rededicated field. 
 
"People truly matter, and these people's lives matter, and the sacrifices that they made were real. It's not just a name on a plaque or a memorial," said Rukes.  
 
The district is selling shirts in honor of the 44 men. 
 
You can find more information, visit the district's website
 

Here is the list of names of the 44 being honored on October 4 with the Memorial Stadium Rededication:

Hubert
Austin Ables, Cpl, U.S. Army Air Forces

Wade
Hampton Allison, T/Sgt, U.S. Army

Ralph
Everett Bell, MM2c, U.S. Navy

Wilmot
Donald Bolinger, Aviation Cadet, U.S. Army Air Forces

Harry
Eugene Bradly, Aviation Cadet, U.S. Army Air Forces

Emmett
Wilson Burns / Davis, S2, U.S. Naval Reserve

Edward
Roy Burton, SM3c, U.S. Navy


George William Crume, S/Sgt, U.S. Army

Marvin
Earl Crump, NAM2, U.S. Navy

James
Rene Duffield, Sgt, U.S. Army Air Forces

Lawrence
Wilburn Dyche, Cpl, U.S. Marine Corps

Gordon
Arthur Eichor, M/Sgt, U.S. Army

Billy
Jack Evans, 2nd Lt, U.S. Army Air Forces

James
Roby Ferguson, MM1c, U.S. Merchant Marines


Leonard L. Flagler, T/Sgt, U.S. Army

Russell
B. Flippen, CM1c, U.S. Merchant Marines

Warren
Vernon Frazier, F1, U.S. Navy

Gustavus
DeLana “Gus” Funk, Capt, U.S. Army

James
Alfred Hinds, T/Sgt, U.S. Army Air Forces

Julius
Olsen Hodges, ENS, U.S. Navy Reserve

Melvin
W. “Rookie” Jacks, Tec 4, U.S. Army

Thomas
Gordon Jackson, S/Sgt, U.S. Army Air Forces

Charles
Clark “Sonny” Kegelman, Col, U.S. Army Air Forces

William
Roberts “Billy” Laird, SM1c, U.S. Navy

John
Leon Lucus, 1st Lt, U.S. Army

John
Richard Matthews, 1st Lt, U.S. Army Air Forces

Ernest
Wilfred Miller, Pfc, U.S. Army

William
Arthur Miller, 1st Lt, U.S. Army Air Forces

Robert
Edgar Monday, Jr., ARM1, U.S. Navy

Thomas
Howard Morgan, Sgt, U.S. Army Air Forces

John
Forrest Moseley, Sgt, U.S. Army

Harry
J. Moss, S/Sgt, U.S. Army Air Forces


Robert Eugene Mowry, Cpl, U.S. Army

Clarence
Arthur Pearce, Jr., T/Sgt, U.S. Army Air Forces

Forrest
Dunfee “Jack” Ridenour, S1, U.S. Coast Guard

Clarence
Thomas Rider, HA1, U.S. Navy

Merlyn
Dale Rukes, S/Sgt, U.S. Army Air Forces

Luther
Hendrix “Buddy” Smith, Jr., 2nd Lt., U.S. Army Air Forces

John
Allen Stewart, Pfc, U.S. Army

Bion
Leigh Taylor, 1st Lt, U.S. Army Air Forces

Robert
King Townsend, Lt, U.S. Naval Reserve

Roy
Edward Whitlock, Asst. Cook, U.S. Merchant Marines

Offa
Lee Wilson, WT1, U.S. Navy

Homer
Don Wright, SC, U.S. Navy