Audio Tour Part Three

Full Audio Tour

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Memorial Home

Audio Tour 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 to Part Three of the audio tour. Continue the tour with Part Four.

Continue to Part 4