Full Audio Tour

Full Audio Tour

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Memorial Home

Full Audio Tour

Part One

Welcome to Part One of the Frisco Veterans Memorial audio tour. This four-part audio tour will tell you about the Memorial’s history, the meaning of the various parts of the Memorial, and their significance for veterans and Frisco residents. To enhance your experience we will include a few comments from veterans, interesting facts, and stories.

Starting underneath the Pavilion, you get your first overall look at the Memorial. You see immediately that the Memorial is framed by open ground with the American, Texas and Prisoner of War / Missing in Action flags flying high above it. When you first look at the Memorial, you see it is designed to provide a peaceful sense of the solemnity and you get an appreciation for gravity of those being honored.

Our Nation and the City of Frisco have long traditions of honoring our past and current veterans for their selfless service in our United States Armed Forces. Dating back to the founding fathers of our country, these military institutions have protected and defended our Constitution and the way of life that it enables.

One Frisco Vietnam veteran described his thoughts about visiting the Memorial saying:

“My thoughts go to those I served with and those that gave their lives in service. I am reminded the vast majority of those who served—including those who were maybe not enthusiastic about being in the service—left with a greater sense of camaraderie, duty and love of country.”

The first Veterans Memorial was created by the Frisco Garden Club in 1948 at a different location in the city. It included a polished granite urn dedicated to those who fought in the two World Wars.

When this Frisco Veterans Memorial site was built and dedicated in 2004, the urn was relocated to its current site and given a prominent location near the two flag poles. The four-sided base has four plaques, added over time by the Frisco Garden Club, to honor veterans who served in nine wars around the globe. In 2014, the Memorial was expanded to include four new brick columns with Information Plaques, the Walk of Honor, a Wall of Honor and other physical elements you will learn about over the course of your experience here at the Memorial.

Start your tour with the WELCOME SIGNS located on the left and right sides near the front of the Memorial. They are exactly the same, and each has a QR code, allowing visitors to access this audio tour and video content information. After you end your Memorial visit, you may want to go back and hear discussions about citizenship, the importance to service members of the letters they received from home, and bonus video interviews with local veterans.

The welcome signs were part of a major 2021 revitalization that included over 25 repairs, updates and additions.

One veteran wrote:

“I am impressed and pleased that the City of Frisco has chosen to honor veterans with the Memorial. I am particularly pleased that the community came together to ‘refurbish’ the Memorial. This demonstrates that there is still a ‘heart’ for veterans in Frisco.”

Next, move to the first brick column on the left near the welcome sign.

On this column, is the CITY OF FRISCO VETERANS MEMORIAL 2004 DEDICATION PLAQUE. This describes the various elements you will see here. We are reminded to take time to honor our family members and others who have served in the military; and remember them for their service and sacrifices.

Since 1973, our military has been an all-volunteer force. Today less than one percent of Americans join our uniformed services. By honoring those who have served, we can help future generations understand sacrifice, patriotism, and service. You can remember by mentally associating Memorial Day to sacrifice, Independence Day to patriotism, and Veterans Day to service.

The dedication plaque closes with an appropriate quote from former President Ronald Reagan. "We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free."

Now walk across the front of the Memorial to the first brick column on the right.

The CITY OF FRISCO became designated as an official PURPLE HEART CITY in 2017 in recognition of our strong community-wide support for veterans and veteran causes.

As the plaque notes, the Purple Heart is America’s oldest military decoration, dating back to 1782 when General George Washington established its predecessor military award- the Badge of Military Merit. In the early 1800’s the award was essentially forgotten, until General Douglas MacArthur reopened work on an updated design in 1932. Former President Herbert Hoover accepted the new medal on the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth. It is the same Purple Heart medal design in use today.

You might find it interesting that over two million Purple Hearts have been awarded to those who were injured in the service of our nation. John F. Kennedy, our 35th President, is the only Commander-in-Chief to have been awarded a Purple Heart. This was as a result of injuries he experienced during World War II. One Army veteran, Tommy Haynes, was received a total of TEN Purple Hearts for his injuries that resulted while fighting in Vietnam ... the most awarded to any single veteran. Additionally, a number of Purple Hearts have been awarded to Frisco Veterans.

This ends Part One of our audio tour. Part Two will discuss the Memorial’s Battlefield Cross, the POW/MIA flag and conclude with the Information Plaques located on both sides of the Memorial, representing various wars and conflicts since the founding of Frisco in 1902.

Part Two

To begin Part Two of the audio tour, move to the center of the inner ring of the Memorial.

Surrounding the ring are separate pillars for each of the five branches of the military that existed on the date the Memorial was dedicated – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The multiple branches remind us of the diversity of the individuals within our military, who help maintain America’s strength.

As you cross the black stained ring that displays the “Veterans Memorial” gold lettering, you will see the Battlefield Cross, placed on a simple base. This is sometimes referred to as a “Soldiers Cross.”

The BATTLEFIELD CROSS is a symbolic representation of someone who has been killed in action. Comrades-in-arms erect the cross to show honor and respect for the brave souls who gave their lives in service to our country.

We don't actually know where or when the battlefield cross was first used. Some believe it may have been during the Civil War where it could have been used to signify the location of a dead soldier for proper burial.

During the Korean War, the battlefield cross gathered even more significance when America's fallen heroes were taken to a staging site prior to their return to the United States. The battlefield cross provided closure for the fallen soldier’s comrades.

Starting with the Gulf War in 1991, the battlefield cross evolved. A battlefield memorial is made up of the soldier's rifle stuck into the ground or into the soldier's boots, with helmet on top. Sometimes, dog tags are placed on the rifle, and the boots of the soldier can be found next to it. Frisco’s statue has been personalized, displaying the State of Texas on the left side of the helmet.

It is common during a battlefield memorial service for the fellow service members of a fallen comrade to touch a portion of the battlefield cross to say good-bye. It has become the iconic symbol of sacrifice, honor, and respect for the fallen soldier.

While standing at the Battlefield Cross, look up to see the POW/MIA FLAG, flying alongside the American and Texas flags. Most know and can recognize the POW/MIA flag, but fewer know its Vietnam War origin, history and what it represents today.

In 1970, the National League of POW/MIA Families designed a flag to honor and bring attention to the plight of our POW/MIA forces in Southeast Asia. That banner was approved in 1972 and it became the national symbol for the improved treatment of POW's and providing more information about those missing in action. In 1989, this flag became the only flag, other than the American colors, to fly over the White House. Only the American and POW/MIA flags are displayed in the United States Capitol Rotunda.

The POW/MIA flag has evolved to be “the symbol of our Nation’s commitment to achieving the fullest possible accounting of service members who remain missing and unaccounted for from every war.” It is our Nation’s solemn duty to remember. That is why the mantra, “YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN” is on the POW/MIA flag and is frequently used to this day.

In July 2018, the remains of 20 soldiers from the Korean War were found. Two years later, the remains of 20 year old United States Army Sergeant William Cavendar, who went missing near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, were identified. More than 70 years after his death in combat, this soldier returned to his hometown of Leslie, Michigan for a proper burial. For all those killed, still missing or whose remains have not yet been recovered, YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.

In 1979, our country established a national day of recognition, observed each year on the third Friday of September, as POW/MIA Day. On the back side of the Memorial, next to the Walk of Honor, you will find a plaque offering you more information on the POW/MIA flag, along with specific details on the former Vietnam POWs.

Now, move to the outer ring of the Memorial. Circling the outer ring are four brick columns with Information Plaques. They represent the wars and conflicts our Nation has been involved in, since Frisco was founded in 1902. Each side of the Memorial has two columns and each column displays two plaques. Those eight plaques highlight 18 separate wars or conflicts where American’s have served our nation and defended freedom around the world.

Most people have heard of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, but few know of the eleven men on Frisco’s Wall of Honor, who were killed in action during these wars. The specifics of The Cold War, Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, the Iraq War or even the War in Afghanistan, may be less familiar.

The Information Plaques share a great deal of history and help supplement knowledge about these conflicts. Here are a few examples of what is inscribed on them:

  • World War I – “Armistice Day” honored World War I veterans, but in 1954 President Eisenhower changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day, honoring ALL veterans. During “the war to end all wars”, five million Americans served and 2.8 million were deployed overseas.
  • World War II - The Nazis killed more than eleven million people, including six million people of the Jewish faith. In Poland alone, 3 million Jews died at the hands of the occupying force. At that time, this represented 90% of the Jewish population living in Poland.
  • The Cold War - After World War II, the Soviet Union blocked access to West Berlin. The western Allies broke the Soviet chokehold with the eleven month-long Berlin Airlift. In 1961, the Berlin Wall construction separated Berlin into two sections. After 28 years, the Berlin Wall finally came down, effectively ending the military actions of the Cold War, which included a nuclear arms build-up between the United States and the Soviets and a space race between the two Superpowers.
  • The War in Afghanistan – It began as a result of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Afghanistan’s Taliban government refused to hand-over Osama Bin Laden to our United States forces. Bin Laden was known to have been the primary planner and commander of the attacks on America’s homeland.

As mentioned earlier, the military draft of civilians into the Armed Services came to an end in 1973, when the United States Armed Forces adopted an all-volunteer military. Nine of the eighteen battles referenced on the Memorial plaques started after that time. Many of the volunteers who chose to serve in the Armed Forces believe – “If not me, then who … If not now, when?” A grateful nation honors our warriors and their courage and commitment.

After reading more about the wars and conflicts that our nation has joined, consider asking a family member or friend about their military service. If you ask, you might be amazed at the stories you will hear!

This brings to an end to Part Two of the audio tour. Continue the tour with Part Three.

Part Three

To begin Part Three of the audio tour, move now to the back side of the Memorial, in the center, just beyond the flags.

This is the Memorial’s WALK OF HONOR. The engraved tribute bricks on the walk identify and honor Frisco residents, their family members or friends of Frisco residents who served or are currently serving our nation.

The Walk of Honor allows for the placement of a distinctive brick that bears a veteran’s name, rank, service branch, and period of service. The nearby Walk of Honor plaque provides the Frisco VFW information link, where tribute bricks can be ordered to honor a friend or relative who honorably served in our United States Armed Forces.

Obviously, each veteran represented has a noteworthy story of their own, but here are a few.

In the second panel from the left as you face the flagpoles, locate the grouping of five charcoal bricks. The five charcoal bricks represent former POWs, and all of these men were former Vietnam POWs.

  • United States Congressman and retired United States Air Force Colonel Sam Johnson was 35 years old when he became a POW for 2,494 days before his release. Nearly seven years. Later, Congressman Johnson represented Collin County in the United States Congress for 28 years before retiring.
  • Next, Retired United States Air Force Colonel Bernard Talley was held captive as a POW for 2,369 days or six and a half years. In 1999, Colonel Talley moved to Frisco and built the house he had designed in his mind while still a POW captive.
  • Retired United States Army Colonel Hal Kushner became a POW for 1,933 days, after the helicopter in which he was a passenger was shot down. Colonel Kushner used his medical training to help care for other captured and injured POWs. A number of the Colonel’s family members now live in Frisco.
  • United States Navy Captain Carroll Beeler was only 28 years old when his plane was shot down and he became a prisoner. His family lived in Frisco for a period of time.
  • Retired United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel John Yuill was captured after the downing of the B-52 he was piloting. He has family members living in Frisco.

Just to the left of the five tribute bricks is a brick for Dr. Charles Silver. Frisco’s Dr. Silver has a unique story. Dr. Silver was born in one of the Nazi-created ghettos that segregated Jews into an enclosed district, known for miserable and brutal conditions. His family was separated, and Charles was adopted by a Catholic family while his parents survived the Holocaust in separate concentration camps. After the war, his parents successfully reclaimed him before the family migrated to America. Dr. Silver went on to graduate from UCLA medical school, after which he was immediately drafted to serve in the Army, including one year on the front lines in Vietnam.

Next, turn your attention to the Memorial’s WALL OF HONOR. It is located just above the Walk of Honor. The Wall of Honor recognizes Frisco residents who were killed in action (KIA) while serving in one of the branches of the United States military. Since the birth of our Republic, brave men and women have died to protect our country and defend our freedoms. In addition to the Memorial, the Frisco Commons Park walking trail includes individual trail markers that cite additional service and ultimate sacrifice details of those American patriots.

Currently, the Wall of Honor has eleven individual plaques in remembrance of each service member killed. Their average age was only 23. These Frisco patriots paid the ultimate price for their commitment to our Constitution, our Nation and our way of life. They were killed in action during engagements from World War I to the War in Afghanistan.

In 1808, the second President of the United States, John Adams, stated, "Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives." The Wall of Honor is a testament to their selfless service and sacrifice to our nation.

It is important to take a few minutes to talk about several of these exceptional young men.

  • The plaque that honors James F Sparkman is on the far left. James was killed in 1918 during World War I. His is the earliest known military death of a Frisco veteran. At the time of his loss in combat, Frisco was only 16 years old and its population was fewer than 1,000.
  • United States Army Corporal Kenneth Jack Hill is the youngest on the Wall of Honor. He fought in Korea for a year before being killed at the age of 18. Imagine as a 17-year-old Corporal and fighting in a war halfway around the world.
  • Cecil Cleveland “Tex” Waldrum was killed at the age of 27. In May 2021, his plaque became the eleventh addition to the wall. His poignant story is worth sharing.
    • Cecil enlisted in the Army just four days before Pearl Harbor, Just seven months later, in July 1942, he became a member of the highly trained, elite First Special Service Force. The group was comprised of both Canadians and Americans and would become the precursor for today's Special Forces; Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force and Green Berets, among others.
    • Based on information found in a dead German’s diary, the Force’s Combat Echelon was given the nickname, “The Black Devils”, referring to their effective and deadly covert night operations, and the black boot polish they smeared on their faces.
    • Cecil’s final World War II deployment was to Anzio, Italy. After landing at Anzio on February 1, 1944, Cecil would be killed 15 days later.
    • Cecil and two others were in a forward observation post behind enemy lines scouting for German activity. The enemy formed a counter-attack on the Allied hold on the Anzio beach and approximately 150 Germans assembled near the house where Cecil and his fellow soldiers remained undetected. These three brave young men called in a 5-gun artillery attack on their own position. Cecil was killed along with most of the Germans, while the other two Americans survived and under the cover of darkness, were able to sneak back across the battle line to safety.
    • In 2013, an act of Congress was passed to award the First Special Service Force a Congressional Gold Medal.
  • Finally in 2009, Peter J Courcy a Frisco High school graduate and was killed in Afghanistan at the age of 22 by an improvised explosive device, known as an IED. Peter’s Mother and other family members continue to live in the area. They are active in numerous veteran causes, including spreading awareness about the significance of Gold Star Families. The Frisco American Legion Post 178 is named in Courcy’s honor, as is the street you drove down to park your car when you entered Frisco Commons Park and the Memorial.

This brings to an end Part Three of the audio tour. Continue the tour with Part Four.

Part Four

To begin Part Four of the audio tour, move now to the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument which is located on the west side of the Veterans Memorial.

The GOLD STAR FAMILIES MEMORIAL MONUMENT was dedicated in 2021. The term “Gold Star Family” is a modern reference that comes from the Service Flag or Banners that were first flown by families during World War I. The flag included a blue star for every immediate family member then serving in the United States Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities. If a loved one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. This allowed members of the community to understand the price that the family had paid in the cause of freedom.

This granite monument honors and recognizes all Gold Star Families and Relatives, who sacrificed a loved one while they served in the United States Armed Forces. This monument provides a quiet place to honor them, regardless of where across the country the service member called home.

This granite monument tells the Gold Star family story through four separate panels: a depiction of the Homeland including images of Frisco … Family … Patriot … and Sacrifice. Each represents the heartfelt loss of a loved one. At the center of this tribute, is the silhouette of a saluting service member, cut out of the granite, representing the legacy of the loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice and the family void created by their loss. A separate granite figure is saluting back in honor of that missing loved one.

There is a fundamental truth we need to remember about our Armed Forces in America. Our Nation stands free on the shoulders of our Armed Forces. Our Armed Forces stand on the shoulders of our warriors. Our warriors stand on the shoulders of their families that helped build the core values that draw our warriors to serve.

This monument was added in conjunction with the local Frisco Gold Star Families and the Herschel “Woody” Williams Foundation. It is the 81st such monument to be dedicated in the United States. Mr. Williams (a Marine) known as the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient for his valiant devotion to duty and for his actions on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Our nation honors Gold Star Mothers and Families Day on the last Sunday of September, and Gold Star Spouses Day on April 5.

Please move to the World War II FLYBOY statue, located on the east side of the Memorial. It is easily reached by following the walkway around the front of the Memorial.

This statue was dedicated on December 7, 2016, in recognition of the 75th observance of the attack on Pearl Harbor which resulted in America’s declaration of war on Japan. Three days later, our nation declared war against Germany. The dedication of this statue, a representation of a World War II Army Air Corps navigator, constituted the completion of Frisco resident Nicholas Morrow’s Boy Scouts of America Eagle Project.

During the peak of World War II, being a member of a heavy bomber crew meant you were incredibly brave, and you put your country over yourself — it was that dangerous. The average age of bomber crew members was just over 20 years old. Aviation was still in its infancy during the 1930s. Only a tiny fraction of Americans had ever been on an airplane. As a result, approximately 15,000 young airmen died in bomber non-combat bomber training or flights in the United States. The cause of death was generally pilot error or mechanical failure. Captain Jerral Derryberry, brother of Lee Harold Derryberry—whose name is included on the Frisco Wall of Honor, was killed in crash in California that followed an engine failure on his plane. Captain Derryberry ferried planes across the Atlantic, as well as flying combat missions over occupied France. He is not listed on the Wall of Honor, since his death was not combat related.

Combat bomber flight crews lost nearly 70 percent of their airmen by being either killed or labeled as missing in action. In total, bomber command aircrews suffered a loss of over 57,000 killed.

Before concluding your audio tour of the Frisco Veterans Memorial, please consider two veteran comments.

First, a long time Frisco resident, retired United States Army Colonel JP Hogan, shared his overall reflections about the Memorial:

"Standing at the top of the Pavilion stairs, looking toward the Memorial and seeing the Battlefield Cross framed in that picture, I felt a deep sense of wonder and gratitude for the commitment and patriotism of those who have, and continue to, serve. And I felt a sense of personal pride in being part of that team.

And I thanked God for our warriors for their courage and commitment; the citizens and the City of Frisco for their commitment to our warriors, The State of Texas; and the United States of America.

I then reflected on the promise that America represents to many around the world. In spite of the trials and tribulations we routinely face as a nation, people from around the globe continue to seek entry."

Finally, a United States Marine Corps Vietnam veteran shared his poignant thoughts about the Frisco Veterans Memorial American flag:

“When I visit the Memorial and look up to see the American flag waving, I am reminded of it being a symbol of what so many have died to protect. I think about the caskets of our fallen patriots draped with the flag, and realize the flag before me still waves because of their sacrifice.”

I am Harry Jacobs and I have had the privilege to accompany you on this tour. The City of Frisco Veterans Advisory Committee would like to express its appreciation for the support of IEBA Communications, the MBMI Companies, and others who made this audio tour available.

This concludes the final portion of the Frisco Veterans Memorial audio tour. Thank you for taking the time to listen. Hopefully, you leave the Memorial knowing it is a living tribute, and not simply a part of a nice park in Frisco. If you found this audio tour interesting and informative, please tell others about your experience.