Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall spurs recognition of price of freedom paid

Members of A Company that fought on David McNerney’s side came from thoughout the country to honor their friend and to participate.

By Lewis Spearman

CROSBY – Few here were not aware that freedom isn’t free, yet the toll paid for just one conflict in the Twentieth Century is told on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall brought the visualization of how great that sum to this community.

Last weekend Son Harvest Church and D.O.V.E. Ministries enlisted the aid of this extended community to accomplish the realization of honors not yet bestowed on those that answered the call to arms to stop Communism half a world away in a tiny country few had heard of prior to that call.

The personal experience of finding one name of someone experienced as a living person and then realizing that all those names were of real people brings the soul to a stunned morning.

There were numerous ceremonies to honor those that served and serve. Escorting the wall to Crosby was accomplished with about 160 motorcycles and several classic cars on Thursday at about 9:25 a.m. Then veterans from around the country congregated and fellowshipped inside Crosby American Legion Post 658. Within an hour volunteers began to erect the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.

On Friday at about 5:15 p.m. Crosby American Legion David H. McNerney Post 658 became the official name with a dedication ceremony that lasted until about 5:45 p.m. About a dozen men of Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Division that served with Sgt. McNerney in Polie Doc, Republic of Vietnam on March 22, 1967 and members of his family attended and paid tribute in speech to the Medal of Honor recipient. Rev. Robin Butler of Crosby First Baptist Church led the invocation.

Lt. Col. Rick Sauer, Sgt. McNerney’s Lieutenant in 1967 and lifelong friend expounded that “The Valley of Tears was a 21 day conflict in which American Service men were engaged against a superior number of North Vietnam Regular Army. I was wounded that day and had to be evacuated. About this time last year some of us lost David, their friend, some lost David, their brother, some lost David, their uncle but A Company lost their first sergeant.”

Other men that served with McNerney expounded that A Company was in effect rescued by B Company on that day but that remainder of A Company would come to the rescue of B Company a few days later during a night action after B Company was overrun. In both cases the companies had been surrounded by larger numbers of North Vietnamese Regulars.

The Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce held a Fish Fry and Bingo Dinner at the Crosby High School Commons at 5:30 p.m. that day.

Conversations at “the Wall” tell interesting facts. Bill Hearn, a Crosby resident and Marine that served in Vietnam said, “There was a Houston Post article that was sent to me that said that per capita more men served in Vietnam from Crosby, Texas than any other small town in the United States.”

The first person to die listed on “the Wall” is Dale R. Buis in 1959 at Biehoa, Republic of Vietnam.

There are 58,272 names on the memorial.

The American Revolution had 4,435 accounted for rebel deaths. There were 2,260 accounted for American deaths from 1812 until 1814. In the War with Mexico from 1846 until 1848 some 1733 American died in action. The American War between the States claimed 498,362 of Johnny and Billy not counting some 31,000 that died in Union prisons. The Spanish-American War claimed 383 lives in action and 2,061 in non-theater. World War 1 saw some 6 million allies die and 54,402 were Americans killed in action with another 63,114 in non-theater deaths. World War II claimed 291,557 killed in action and 113,842 in non-theater deaths. The Korean Conflict cost 33,741 killed in action and 2,833 in theater deaths and 17,672 in non-theater deaths. The Gulf War of 1990 until 1991 cost 147 American deaths in action and 382 in theater related deaths and 1,565 non-theater deaths. As of last year, the Global War on Terror has cost 4,724 in action and 1,294 in other deaths for American service men and women.

Opening Ceremonies for the Wall followed a parade at 10:00 a.m. Jeff Moore of Sterling White Cemetery gave the opening remarks. Lynnette Crainer of D.O.V.E. Ministries was master of ceremonies with Don Guillory of the Legion.

A Sunday service was presented by Rev. Richard Amador of Son Harvest Church with the largest crowd attending any of the events save possibly the parade.

Cedric Patterson Chaplain AL Post 658 started the Closing Ceremonies. Lynnette Crainer led a singing rendition of God Bless America with participation of all attendants.