THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE: A salute to Bosque County’s veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces past & present for Veterans Day 2020
Over the decades, many, many brave young patriotic Bosque County men and women have given their youth and courage – and even their lives – to serve in the Armed Forces. And many families endured extended anxiety over and suffered the loss of loved ones serving in one military campaign or another.
In the time that she served as Bosque Collections Manager, Ruth Crawford comprised an extensive list of names and stories of veterans and their service. Dr. Gloria Hewlett created a book, “Bosque County Armed Forces Veterans,” featuring 100 stories of veterans she gathered over the years. The Selmer Erickson Post American Legion also produced a book featuring photographs and a brief history of Bosque County WWII veterans. And Vietnam Veteran Mike Burns wrote two books regarding his experiences in Vietnam, with “Profiles of Courage” honoring his fellow Bosque County Vietnam Veterans. The book features personal experiences of these men who fought in an unpopular war and who came home to a country that just wanted to forget.
They are all important documents that preserve the legacy of these valiant defenders of democracy and freedom.
“I am the daughter of a WWII veteran,” Crawford said proudly. “Some people never meet their heroes; I was raised by mine. I feel we owe all who have served, and their families, our sincerest gratitude for their service and sacrifices.”
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared November 11 as National Veterans Day, a day set aside to ensure all veterans are honored for the sacrifices they have made to keep the nation safe, or to preserve democracy in other parts of the world.
Without naming them all, Bosque County has been home to so many of veterans; each with stories worth telling and remembering. And to add to that list, many veterans migrated to Bosque County to retire over the years, and their stories might not have been recorded at the Bosque Collections.
For this Veterans Day, CHISHOLM COUNTRY wants to list a few notable county men and women, whose stories can be found in the Bosque Collections archives. Just a few sentences of each of their harrowing experiences endured in protecting United States freedoms, or democracy in general, humbles any reader.
Prior to or around the time of Bosque County’s establishment in 1854
Roden T. Crane fought and lost an eye and was wounded in the ankle in the Battle of San Jacinto. He was given land in the south of the county for his service. He eventually drowned in the Bosque River, and is buried in Valley Mills Cemetery.
Philip Howard fought with General William Henry Harrison in 1832 in the Black Hawk Wars. He later became a Bosque County Justice of the Peace. He is buried in Meridian Cemetery.
Many of the county’s early leaders were former Texas Rangers, such as first county judge L.H. Scrutchfield, J.B. “Buck” Barry, Capt. Jack Cureton and R.S. Barnes. These same men fought in the Mexican American War and the War Between the States.
Sam Barnes seemed to go from one campaign to the next. He fought with Ben Milam; then fought in Santa Cruz in 1845; rode with S.P. Ross and George B. Erath in the Rangers; he served as Indian Guide for the 2nd Dragoons from Fort Graham; fought and was wounded through the shoulder with the 15th Texas Calvary in Arkansas. After healing from the shoulder wound, joined the Frontier Militia as Captain and died in January of 1866 in the Battle of Dove Creek.
WAR BETWEEN THE STATES
Also known as the American Civil War
From 1861 to 1865, the northern states loyal to the Union and southern states that had seceded to form the Confederate States of America.
Bosque County Judge A.R. Barry was a young medical school graduate from Virginia in 1862. Instead of accepting a commission with the US Army, he instead enlisted as a private in the Army of Virginia. His medical skills were much needed, and at the Battle of Gettysburg he was serving as chief surgeon in a CSA field hospital.
After the war, he and other war –worn, discouraged soldiers bought passage on a ship headed to Mexico. During a storm the ship ran aground on the Texas coast. Dr. Barry found his way to Bosque County and treated folks around Kopperl and Kimball until he was elected judge in 1886.
Sam Fossett and his brother Henry moved from New York to Meridian in 1855. They were attorneys, and businessmen. The brothers were partners in an early saloon in Meridian, and printed the Bosque Eagle, an early paper in Meridian. Henry served as interim judge from 1858 to 1860.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Sam formed the militia known as Fossett’s Minutemen, and Henry was part of the Texas Troops, which defended county borders against Indian raids during the war. He led local militia to the last big Indian fight in Texas, at Dove Creek. Sam went on to serve under General Hood. He was wounded at Gaines Mill, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness and was at Appomattox when Lee surrendered.
Sam briefly served as Sheriff during Reconstruction. He was instrumental in forming Bosque County Camp Albert Sidney Johnson #115 then located near what is now known as Bosque Bottoms. This was a place for veterans to gather and discuss pensions, help each other and share memories. Dues were ten cents per year.
William Rush Sedberry resigned as county judge in 1862 to serve as 2nd Lieutenant under General Allison Nelson, also from Bosque County, and was killed in action in Arkansas.
An armed conflict between Spain and the United States in 1898
Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on Dec. 10, 1898.
Calvin Mapes Cureton was the grandson of Capt. Jack Cureton. C.M. shared a law practice with brother Hugh in Meridian. He served with the 3rd Texas Infantry during the conflict. Later in life, he was elected Attorney General of Texas and then appointed Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
Other Bosque County soldiers who served during this war were J.W. Eddleman, Charles B. McCoy, John L. Cramer and Logan Bird.
WORLD WAR I
U.S. entered world conflict in 1917
For two years, President Woodrow Wilson kept the United States out of the war. But in April 1917, Germany violated its pledge to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean endangering U.S. ships. Germany also attempted to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States. The war ended with the armistice Nov. 11, 1918.
Private First Class Torsten Bryn from Cranfills Gap, volunteered for service Oct. 1917 and trained with the 144th Infantry Company G, part of the 36th Division, Camp Bowie. It being a combat division, Bryn was in combat continuously. On Oct. 12, 1918, 21-year-old Bryn was killed by machine gun fire during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Bryn received the Croix de Guerre post-mortem for distinguished service and exceptional bravery displayed while in action.
The Bryn’s other son John Bryn, who was wounded with at least 14 wounds, but recovered.
James Hagen served in Company. B of the U.S. Colored Infantry and died in service.
During WWI a special unit was created out of the old Buffalo Soldier Division, known as Pioneer Troops, used for special details. Bosque County’s Finas Johnson, Selvin Griffin and Lewis Crawford served in the Pioneer Troops.
WORLD WAR II
Started on Sept. 30, 1939
The United States entered World War II when Japan bombarded Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 and ended for the Allied Troops in 1945. The United States fought in the Pacific and on the Western Front.
Over 2,000 young men and women from Bosque County served during WWII.
December 7, 1941 began as any other peaceful Sunday morning. However, by the end of that day, the world would never be the same.
On board the USS Raleigh, which took the first torpedo hit as it was moored in Pearl Harbor was young bugler Pat Perry Duncan. When the Captain ordered him to play general quarters, the ship had taken on so much water all he could blow were gurgles.
Charlie Boswell was aboard the USS Tennessee on that “date that will live in infamy.” His duty station was below the five inch guns. During regular drills his team could “throw up” 100 110-pound shells, in two hours. When his captain announced “Boys, this is NOT a drill,”
Boswell and his team threw 547 rounds in 20 minutes. He was so engrossed in his duty he had no real idea of what was happening over his head. When he finally stepped on the main deck, Boswell couldn’t believe the carnage he witnessed. The USS Tennessee was wedged between the USS Arizona and USS West Virginia.
Young David Everett remembers the uneasiness of not knowing what might happen while on board the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which was at sea during the Pearl Harbor attack. Everett was later assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Lexington fighting in the Battle for Australia and the Battle of the Coral Sea.
After the Lexington was hit the ship rolled on its side, making abandoning ship difficult. Everett recalls floating around the Coral Sea – South of Papua New Guinea – in frightening conditions before he was rescued.
Clovis Baldridge served on the ill-fated USS Indianapolis. He wouldn’t speak of his experiences to his son or anyone, however did recommend the book “Abandon Ship” which describes floating in rough seas, in burning oil, with salt water in bleeding wounds, weakness and fatigue from battle, hunger and thirst, and the sharks circling, waiting to lunge in for a kill of the helpless sailors.
Don Holderman was taken as prisoner on the Baton Death March, and remained a prisoner of war in Japan for three and a half years. The day he was rescued he weighed 87 pounds and suffered the effects of scurvy the rest of his life.
Clarence Golden served as a Medic in the US Army in the 2nd Armored Division and landed on Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944 and advanced all the way into Germany. He took a brief time out in an English hospital to recover from a shrapnel wound, which he credits for probably saving his life.
Bosque County Attorney Doyle Borchers wrote the book “Interlude with Death” recalling his time in the infamous Nazi prison camp Stalag 17.
Caroline York was the first female enlistee from Bosque County and became the poster girl for the WACs. She later hosted “Hello America” on Armed Forces Radio.
U.S. intervention began in 1953
On June 27, 1950, two days after the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea by crossing the border at the 38th parallel. The U.S. intervention in the Korean Conflict started when President Harry S. Truman ordered the U.S Air Force and Navy to help the South Koreans repel the invaders. On July 27, 1953, North Korea, China, and the United States signed an armistice agreement ending the fighting.
Master Sergeant William L. Bryant served on a B-29 bomber.
Private Jodie Jorgenson lost his life on June 3, 1952.
Sergeant Oliver Strand spent his own money plus donations from home to provide clothing for Korean orphans.
Trent Knudson from Clifton served at the infamous Chosin Reservoir with Co B 279th Infantry Division. Soldiers in that battle are also called the “Frozen Chosen,” because the soldiers encountered icy cold conditions. Knudson was an Airborne Ranger who earned a Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Service Star and two Purple Hearts from wounds he received from two hand grenades.
Corporal Billy Bob Kuykendall took his fire team up a knoll and took out an enemy machine gun. With no regard to his own safety he attacked with just his rifleman and himself.
“Through his courage he saved the rest of us from being casualties. We want to let the people of his hometown know they can be proud of Cpl. Kuykendall.” Sgt. A.J. Ronald, Squad Leader.
Captain Elbert Legion led his artillery battalion as the first to fire on the Red capital of Pyongyang.
1st Lt. Louis Sormrude received the Silver Star for bravery. Sadly, months later he was killed in action.
Also known as the Second Indochina War
The Vietnam Civil War was known in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War. It was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.
U.S. military intervention started in March 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson launched a three-year campaign of sustained bombing of targets in North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Operation Rolling Thunder. The same month, U.S. Marines land on beaches near Da Nang, South Vietnam as the first American combat troops to enter Vietnam.
James Rogers was inducted into the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame in July of 2002, in honor of his extraordinary heroism and remarkable dedication for 22 years. He was assigned to Vietnam in 1965 as Senior Advisor to the 11th Vietnamese Ranger Battalion.
Rogers was in a major engagement with a superior NVA force and carried his counterpart on his shoulder while supervising the rest the of the unit to withdraw. He exposed himself without regard to his personal safety under intense fire for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Specialist 4 Paul Charles received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism during military operations. “Specialist 4 Charles by valorous actions as squad leader in an infantry unit on a search and destroy operation in War Zone C.”
Al West was a Green Beret who served in Southeast Asia. His service was so secret he was not allowed to talk about it or even to be awarded special recognition until recently, when in 2010, he was awarded two Bronze Stars.
Tommie Symank graduated from Mosheim in 1959. Tommie was drafted in September and was killed in action March 1967. He is listed on the memorial wall.
US Army Cpl. Howard Sadler from Valley Mills was killed in action in Vietnam February 3, 1968, and is listed on the memorial wall.
Ronnie Ogle served as a “Tunnel Rat” in Vietnam.
Also known as the War on Terrorism
In 2008, a visitor to the Bosque Collection bought a county flag, to take with him on his deployment in Iraq. Capt. Thomas Patton USM from Valley Mills stated that many of the men fly state flags, but he proudly wanted to fly his county flag.
Many months later, Patton returned safely with the flag, along with an American flag and a certificate that the flag had not only flown over the base, but had flown in combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan
Patton was a pilot of a Seahawk helicopter, which flew reconnaissance missions along the border of Iraq and Afghanistan with a crew of Iraqi pilot trainees. Patton also served as Squadron Flight Surgeon- Combined Joint Special Operations Aviation Component, Air Base Balad, Iraq. Captain Patton trained after medical school at Goodall-Witcher Hospital under Dr. Goodall.
Monica Brown was a cheerleader and on the track team at Kopperl High School. After graduation, she joined the US Army as a medic, and she became the second woman since WWII to be presented a Silver Star.
In 2008, in Afghanistan, she was caught in a firefight and bombing. Using her body as a shield she pulled five wounded soldiers from a burning Humvee and dragged them to safety. The Humvee exploded and shrapnel flew everywhere. Young Brown said she could only think about getting the soldiers to a safer location.
Specialist Melissa Crawford served as an Apache Helicopter mechanic in Iraq.
Specialist Laurel Galindo served with American Forces Network as a field reporter in Iraq.
Chris Mathews trained with Iraqi police forces.
Clifton graduate Justin Necessary was assigned to the “Ramrod Battalion” in Afghanistan. They were sent on a rescue operation of a Black Hawk which crashed at an elevation of 6,000 feet killing six crew members. Justin and his team began the arduous climb carrying medical and survival supplies. Justin was one of the few who finally made it up, even though he was half frozen and injured.
Gilbert Yguerabide graduated from Meridian in 2000. Soon after 9/11, he joined the Marines. Gilbert fought in Fallujah, Iraq where some of the heaviest fighting took place. Gilbert has served in such an honorable fashion that he now is serving at the rank of Captain.
Former Bosque County Deputy and Meridian City Police Department Tabitha Harrison served as a communication specialist and was assigned to Abu Ghraib. In 2008, she returned to Iraq as a civilian security contractor.
PEACE TIME & THE COLD WAR
Many young men and women never served in combat or during a war. However, their service is recognized as just as important as boots on the ground.
Clifton was home to the 36th Infantry Division, Texas State Guard, formed in 1922. It became part of the National Guard in 1940 and served with distinction in North Africa during WWII. After the war, it was recognized as 143rd Infantry Heavy Mortar Company.
On January 15, 1968, the unit became part of the 71st Airborne Brigade, and some of these young men were called into active duty. In 1973, the unit was organized as part of 1st Squadron of 124th Cavalry 49th Division. It is now disbanded.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS & courtesy of the BOSQUE COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION, NATIONAL ARCHIVES, U.S. ARMY & U.S. NAVAL HISTORY & HERITAGE COMMAND
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