Matagorda County, Texas
photos courtesy of Kenneth L. Thames
MAJOR CURTIS DANIEL MILLER
In October 1973 a young oak sapling was planted
behind the Palacios High School and named the
"Freedom Tree". It was planted in memory of Capt.
Curtis Dan Miller, USAF, and all POWs & MIAs. Capt.
Miller was an alumni of Palacios High School,
graduating in 1964, who had been a crewmember of a
USAF surveillance and gunship aircraft that was shot
down over Laos on March 29, 1972 - it was presumed
he had survived the crash and was a POW. The
beautiful tree has grown enormously over the past 39
years, and serves as a gathering place for the
A "Welcome Home" oak sapling was planted near the
Palacios High School softball field on April 24,
2010 in honor of Major Curtis Dan Miller, USAF who
was killed in action on March 29, 1972. He was
originally classified as a POW until his remains
were found in Laos, at which time he was
re-classified as KIA. He was buried with full
military honors at the Dallas-Fort Worth National
Cemetery on March 29, 2010 - 38 years to the day of
SPECIALIST 4 MICHAEL
Michael A. Pierce
January 1, 1972 a flagpole was donated and erected at
the main entrance of Hawley Cemetery, Blessing, Texas in
memory of, and in honor of Sp4 Michael Abel Pierce, USA
who was Killed in Action in Vietnam on January 1, 1971.
The flagpole was donated by his family.
SPECIALIST FOURTH CLASS W. L. "DUB" HAMLIN
W. L.'s graduating class of 1962
was the last class to graduate from what was then
the new Palacios High School building. After
renovations, the building is now the East side
Annex, and during a class reunion in conjunction
with the building's dedication c1985-86, W. L.'s
classmates presented Superintendent Bill Reaves a
plaque in memory of him. The plaque is currently
(2012) permanently and prominently mounted in the
foyer of the Fine Arts Building at Palacios High
KERRY DUANE DALE
A beautifully rugged bell tower was erected at St.
John's Episcopal Church in Palacios by the family of 1LT
Kerry Duane Dale, USMC, in his memory and honor. 1LT
Dale was killed in an aircraft accident at Marine Corps
Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, on July 13,
1988. He was buried with full military honors at Hawley
Cemetery, Blessing, Texas. It is unknown when the bell
tower was erected, but is believed to have been in the
spring of 1989.
Kerry Duane Dale
U. S. Marine Corps
1962 - July 13, 1988
put out my hand
and touched the face of God."
IRAQI FREEDOM MEMORIAL TREE
On March 2, 2009, Texas Independence Day, two oak
saplings, donated by Mr. Lamar Evans to the City of Bay
City, were planted at the Philip H. Parker VFW Post
2438, Bay City, in memory and in honor of two Matagorda
County men who were KIA during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"David's Tree" was planted by his Gold Star Mother, Mrs.
June McCormick, in honor of her son CPL David P.
McCormick, USA who was KIA on April 28, 2008. "Joshua's
Tree" was planted by Gold Star Mother Lois Winfrey*,
whose son was KIA in Vietnam, in honor of SGT Joshua A.
Ward, USA who was KIA on February 9, 2009. CPL McCormick
was buried with full military honors at Roselawn
Memorial Park, Van Vleck, Texas. SGT Ward was buried
with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National
Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas. Assisting the Gold Star
Mothers in planting the trees were the Mayor of Bay
City, Richard Knapik, the ladies of Cradle of Texas,
Daughters of the Republic of Texas and gentlemen of
Matagorda Chapter No. 35, Sons of the Republic of Texas.
The trees have rooted well, and are growing vigorously,
despite the prolonged drought they have lived through.
*Gold Star Mother Mrs. Pattie
Ward was unable to attend the tree planting ceremony.
Cpl. David P. McCormick
A. Ward, Sr.
Memorial Tree Planting Photos
CORPORAL DAVID P.
BLUE STAR MEMORIAL
started erecting them and why?
Last Thursday [April 25, 1987] a Blue Star Memorial
Highway marker was erected on west S. H. 35 during a
special dedication ceremony. Attending were members of
the Flora Luncheon Study Club, Flower Gardeners Club,
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2438, American Legion
Post11, Woodmen of the World, Daughters of the Republic
of Texas and other distinguished guests. Special guest
was Mrs. Martin Priem, president of District IV Coastal
Prairie Council of Texas Garden Clubs, Inc., of which
Matagorda County is a part.
What is a Blue Star Memorial Highway marker? In 1944
Garden Clubs in New Jersey beautified six miles of
highways. They designed the marker which has one blue
star and the wording, "A tribute to the Armed Forces
(men and women) that have defended the United States of
America or others who will serve to do so." The blue
star on the memorial plaque is significant of the blue
star of the service flag displayed by families who have
a family [member] in the service. The National Council
of Garden Clubs approved this project for garden clubs
throughout the United States to be used as a "living
memorial" in 1945. This was a tribute to veterans
returning from World War II and also to beautify the
country. These markers are placed about every 75 miles
apart and that section of highway is the memorial
highway. There are 40,000 miles of memorial highways
across the U.S. today. There are 40 blue star markers in
Texas today including the one in Bay City.
When Mrs. A. X. Seerden was appointed
State Blue Star Highway chairman in 1983, she encouraged
her garden club, Flora Luncheon Study Club, to consider
placing a marker in the Bay City vicinity. After
consideration, the club members agreed to do so. Members
of Town and Country Garden Club and Flower Gardeners
Club were asked to join the other club (sic) in this
project. Then the city council gave the club permission
to place the marker and the State Highway Department
selected a site for it. The Patriotic Clubs such as VFW
Post 2438, American Legion Post 11 and Woodmen of the
World joined in this venture. Lamar Evans landscaped the
area and former Mayor Glen White helped the groups from
the beginning to promote the project. After
money-raising projects and much planning, the garden
clubs of Bay City assisted by the other organizations
that had assisted them to make the project a reality,
were able to honor the service veterans men and women
(sic) for their service of protection for this country.
Joined by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and
Daughters of the American Revolution, this was also the
first Sesquicentennial (150th birthday of Texas) project
for Bay City. The marker is located on west S. H. 35
near the first canal bridge.
Persons who worked hard to get a Blue
Star Memorial Highway marker erected in Bay City pose
for a picture following dedication ceremonies on
Thursday. They are (from left) S. T. Eidson, VFW 2438; Margaret Seerden, blue
star highway marker chairman; Mrs. E. M. Huitt,
president of the Flora Luncheon Study Club; Mrs. Martin
Priem, president of District IV Texas Gardens Clubs,
Inc.; Mrs. Voss McCrosky, Town and Country Club; Margie
Griffith, former president of the Flora Luncheon Study
Club; Allene Heckendorn, president of Flower Gardeners
Club; Robert Head, Woodmen of the World; H. D. O'Rear,
VFW Post 2438; Clyde McKinney American Legion Post
11; and Vernon Miles, VFW 2438. Also instrumental in the planning of obtaining the
marker were members of the Daughters of the Republic of
Texas and Daughters of the American Revolution.
The Daily Tribune, May 1, 1985
NOTE: Vandals broke the marker from
its base sometime in late 2011. The marker was recovered
and is currently in storage while efforts are being made
to identify who has the capabilities to repair it.
l to r: S. T. Eidson, Bobby Head, Louise McCrosky & Bernice
l to r: S. T. Eidson & Bobby Head
l to r: unknown, William Barber, Vernon Miles, Clyde
unknown, Waddy Cole?
l to r: A. S. Dierlam, Andrew L. Jones, unknown, S. T.
H. D. O'Rear, G. P. "Gepe" Hardy, unknown
courtesy of the collection of the Ladies Auxiliary
Philip H. Parker VFW Post 2438.