Weatherford Democrat

March 22, 2013

A dedication fit for heroes

Fort Wolters group to formally dedicate Medal of Honor plaza Saturday


Weatherford Democrat

— By LIBBY CLUETT | Lone Star News Group

MINERAL WELLS – Located in far western Parker County, Fort Wolters Historical Park will come alive Saturday morning as the Fort Wolters Gate Committee, veterans, community and dignitaries offer a public dedication of the new Medal of Honor Memorial.

The ceremony takes place north of the entrance of Wolters Industrial Park, at the “Y” in the road. Enter on Washington Street off U.S. 180 and go under the arched gate flanked by two Vietnam-era training helicopters.

Organizers suggest that anyone planning to attend might want to come early, since parking is limited and this event gets rumbling prior to 10 a.m. – with a ride-by by the American Legion Riders and others riding around the park at about 9:50 a.m.

In case of rain, the ceremony will take place in the City of Mineral Wells Activity Center, located at 735 Hood Road, also in Wolters Industrial Park.

The dedication is expected to last about 45 minutes. At 10 a.m., there will be a ribbon cutting for the new memorial honoring 14 Medal of Honor recipients who trained in Mineral Wells – either at Camp Wolters, during World War II, or at Fort Wolters, during the Vietnam War. See below, the list of names and dates they served locally.

Also among Saturday’s dedication itinerary will be an honor guard and flag salute by North Texas Veterans Association and music performed by the Mineral Wells High School Choir, which will precede speaker comments.

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway and state Rep. Jim Keffer will offer some remarks. Following the legislators are Bill Knight, brother of Garner native and WWII Medal of Honor awardee Jack Knight, and Lt. Col. Lee Evans, a MWHS graduate and officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces. Evans will also present a flag display.

With assistance from the Boy Scouts and Civil Air Patrol, Wayne Sanderson will call the roll for each of the Medal of Honor recipients.

Fourteen individuals are being honored Saturday. They all walked through the gates of Camp Wolters or Fort Wolters, serving in the U.S. military. Some died in combat and others lived, but all were awarded the military’s highest honor, for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.

They are as follows:

Camp Wolters Medal of Honor recipients, beginning with the date they served in Mineral Wells, are:

• 1941 – 1st Lt. Vernon Baker, for extraordinary heroism on April 5-6, 1945, in Viareggio, Italy.

• 1941 – Staff Sgt. Edward A. Carter, for extraordinary heroism on March 23, 1945, in Speyer, Germany.

• 1940 – 1st Lt. Jack L. Knight, of Garner, for meritorious valor on Feb. 2, 1945, in Loikang, Burma.

• 1942 – 2nd Lt. Audie L. Murphy, for conspicuous gallantry on Jan. 26, 1945, in Holtzwihr, France.

• 1942-43 – 1st Lt. Charles L. Thomas, for extraordinary heroism on Dec. 14, 1944, in Climbach, France.

• 1942 – 1st Lt. Eli L. Whiteley, for  conspicuous gallantry on Dec. 27, 1944, in Sigolsheim, France.

Fort Wolters Medal of Honor recipients, beginning with the date they served in Mineral Wells, are:

• 1962-63 – Major William E. Adams, for conspicuous gallantry on May 25, 1971, in Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam.

• 1963 – Major Patrick H. “Pat” Brady, for conspicuous gallantry on Jan. 6, 1968, in Chu Lai, RVN.

• 1966-67, ‘68-69 – Chief Warrant Officer Frederick E. Ferguson, for conspicuous gallantry on Jan. 31, 1968, in Hue, RVN.

• 1967-68 – Capt. Ed “Too Tall” Freeman, for conspicuous gallantry on Nov. 14, 1965, in Ia Drang Valley, RVN.

• 1965-66 – Staff Sgt. Joe R. Hooper, for conspicuous gallantry on Feb. 21, 1968, near Hue, RVN.

• 1964 – CWO Michael J. Novosel, for conspicuous gallantry on Oct. 2, 1969, in Kien Tuong Province, RVN.

• 1970 – Capt. James M. Sprayberry, for conspicuous gallantry on April 25, 1968, RVN.

• 1965-66, ‘68-69 – Capt. Jon E. Swanson, for conspicuous gallantry on February 26, 1971, in the Kingdom of Cambodia, during the Vietnam War.

Libby Cluett is a reporter for the Mineral Wells Index, a sister publication of the Weatherford Democrat. Contact her at lcluett@mineralwellsindex.com.