A Guide to the History of Richardson, Texas

Return to Home Page

Richardson Memorial Park

See also: Memorial Park as it was (prior to November 2021)

Memorial Park 2022

From Volume 2 of A Sesquicentennial History of Richardson, Texas:

Tucked away into the northwest corner of Centennial Boulevard and Grove Road in Richardson is a tiny, wedge-shaped, tastefully-landscaped green oasis called Memorial Park. It was first dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1976. Following a "makeover" in 2021, the park was rededicated on November 13, 2021. A low, stone wall and concrete walkways wind their way through the park. Three flagpoles, one flying the flag of the United States, another flying the flag of Texas, and the third flying the Richardson city flag, have taken the place of the single flagpole that stood here previously. On the corner where the two streets meet, a Christian cross made of red brick is inset into the pavement, the park's designer (as well as civic leaders of 1976) apparently unmindful of the fact that a public space paid for with taxpayer money that incorporates religious symbols violates the fundamental American principle of separation of church and state.

Memorial Park cross

During the 2021 "makeover" of the park, a large, shiny black marble slab, measuring about 5 feet in height, 7 feet in length, and 6 inches in depth, was erected. It bears the emblems of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard and is inscribed with these words: "In MEMORIAM TO THEIR ULTIMATE SACRIFICE. THEY DID NOT DIE IN VAIN." and below those lines, "TO THE HONOR AND GLORY OF ALL THOSE WHO UNSELFISHLY GAVE OF THEMSELVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY FOR THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM."

Marble Memorial

Twenty-seven Richardson residents who died in service during the Civil War, the First World War, the Second World War, the War in Vietnam, and the War in Iraq are honored here, their names inscribed on one of three dark gray plaques inset in the stonework. No casualties of the Spanish-American or Philippine-American wars are on the plaque, most certainly because no troops from Texas took part in either conflict. Neither are any dead from the Korean War listed.

THE CIVIL WAR (1861-1865)
Civil War
Courtesy Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

One could argue that in light of the fact that Richardson did not exist at the time of the Civil War and also because they fought for a government that sought to destroy the union, preserve slavery and perpetuate white supremacy, that it is inappropriate to include the names of the three men who are listed under the heading "War Between the States." Nevertheless, there they are, on the plaque: Daniel Doughty, Christopher Huffhines, and George Washington Huffhines.

Doughty, who also served in Bell's Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers during the earlier U.S-Mexican War, served in Morgan's command. He was captured, kept prisoner in Ohio for several months and then exchanged. From all appearances, he died of an illness in a Richmond, Virginia hospital.

Christopher Huffhines, who served in the 13th Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A., was taken prisoner at the fall of Fort Donelson. He survived the war (another reason why his name should not be on this memorial), and died in 1901. He is buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Dallas.

George Washington Huffhines was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia in September 1863.

World War I
Courtesy National Park Service.

During the First World War, more than eighty Richardson residents served in the armed forces. Amazingly, only two of them did not live to return home. One of the two was thirty-one-year-old Roy V. Meason (misidentified as Mason on the Richardson war memorial), son of Frank and Nannie Meason. Meason enlisted on May 20, 1917. After training, he was sent to Kelly Field, near San Antonio, where he was assigned to the 144th Regiment's Air Service Band. On December 19, 1918, he died at Kelly Field without ever leaving the United States. According to his death certificate, the official cause of death was hematemesis, which is vomiting of blood, which suggests that he was a victim of the infamous "Spanish Flu" pandemic of 1918, although the certificate also states that he had a gastric ulcer. He was buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery, just off present-day Valley View Lane.

The other fatality was Private Oscar B. Copas, son of Mr. and Mrs. James B. Copas of Richardson. Copas enlisted on April 20, 1918. After training at Camp Travis, Texas, Private Copas was sent with his unit, Company F, 359th Infantry, to Hoboken, New Jersey, from where he sailed on June 20, 1918 aboard the S.S. Orduna.

Upon arrival in France on July 2, Copas's company "was immediately sent into action on the front and he was killed while fighting on Sept. 26th, at the battle of St. Mihiel." The Richardson Echo noted that several months passed before his parents were told he was missing in action. After another long interval, they were informed that he was dead and had been buried on or near the battlefield. In 1921, Copas's remains were disinterred and returned to the United States.

On Wednesday, June 29, 1921, a funeral was held at the Baptist Church, in Richardson, where all the businesses were closed out of respect to the fallen soldier. According to The Echo, the church, which was "wonderfully decorated in patriotic colors and flags," could not hold but half of the mourners who had turned out, and that when the hearse left to carry Copas to his final resting place in Mount Calvary Cemetery, a hundred cars followed.

At the cemetery, members of an American Legion post conducted a military graveside service, complete with the playing of "Taps" on a bugle and the firing of three rounds over the grave. Copas's pallbearers--"Will Stratton, Neely Huffhines, Will Jackson, Kirby Ashby, Charley Blewett, Pete Wright and J. W. Sullivan, all from Richardson except Mr. Sullivan"--had served with Copas in France and were in the same battle, "fighting side-by-side with Oscar when he was killed and wounded by the same shell."

World War II
From a U.S. Army publication.

During World War II, Richardson lost six of its many residents that saw military service. In plaque order they are: Army Sgt. James P. French, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. F. French, who died in France on September 19, 1944 as Allied troops were in the process of pushing the German army back into their own country. The Richardson Echo reported that French had enlisted in November 1939, before America became militarily involved in the war, and was in the Tank Destroyer Division. Richardson's claim to French is unclear. His parents lived in Plano and he is buried at the Plano Mutual Cemetery.

Marine Lt. Edward Henry Hughes, born May 11, 1921, is next on the list of World War II casualties. Unlike French, Richardson's claim to Hughes is solid. After graduation from Richardson High School in 1937, he spent three years at Dallas's Southern Methodist University. He enlisted in the Navy on August 13, 1942 and underwent training at Hensley Field. After earning his pilot wings on April 4, 1943 at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, he switched to the Marine Corps. In early 1944, he had the dubious distinction of being the first Richardson service member reported as Missing-in-Action. Previously, Hughes had made several bombing runs over Europe but an unnamed source says he went missing during a bombing raid over Rabaul, New Britain (in the Pacific) in November 1943. There is a memorial marker for Hughes at Restland Memorial Park.

The third name on this list is Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth Leon Jackson, who was also born in 1921 and also went missing in the South Pacific in 1944. A memorial marker in Restland Memorial Park says he was lost over Iwo Jima while serving aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet.

Fourth on the list is Marine Corporal Robert Edwin Pitts, born December 18, 1924, a graduate of Richardson High School (and football player) who enlisted in 1943 and was afterward killed while fighting the Japanese at Saipan, in the Marshall Islands. on June 15, 1944. Shortly before his death, he authored a short, two-stanza poem entitled "There's No End," which was originally sent to "a person in the states." Some months after Pitt was killed and posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, it was printed in its entirety in The Richardson Echo. Prophetically, one of the lines reads, "We can't live forever, it's true." Pitts is buried at Restland Memorial Park.

Fifth on the list of World War II dead is Army Private Richard Smirl, of the Seventh Army, born June 22, 1924. Tragically, Smirl died in action, in Germany, on March 15, 1945, only two months after arriving in Europe and only a few weeks before the end of the war. He had enlisted in July 1944. He was buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery in France.

The final name on the list of World War II dead is Army Private Lawrence L. White, Jr., who was likewise killed in action in Germany on March 28, 1945. Born in 1915, he was older than most soldiers and also married. At the time of his death, he had a six-year-old daughter, Barbara Ann. White was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and the Silver Star medal. The same as Smirl, White never returned home. He is buried in the American Cemetery at Neuville, France.

THE WAR IN VIETNAM (1965-1973)
Vietnam War
Courtesy National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, the list of names of the ten men who died in the War in Vietnam on the bronze plaque in Richardson's Memorial Park is not entirely accurate. One of the men listed--Kirk D. Greenawalt--did not die in combat while serving in Vietnam. Although he was in the service and he was from Richardson, nineteen-year-old Navy Airman Apprentice Greenwalt was killed, not in combat in Vietnam, but rather in an automobile accident in Yosemite National Park in 1975, more than two years after American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. By rights, his name should be in the list of those who died in service outside of wartime.

The remaining nine are as follows:

First Lt. Louis Karl Breuer IV, (not Brewer, as misspelled on the memorial plaque), of F Troop, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Army, was born on March 22, 1944 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. However, he grew up in Richardson and was graduated in 1964 from Richardson High School, where he played varsity football and baseball. After high school he enrolled at Texas Tech in Lubbock, where he also played football. An Army helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam, Breuer died on June 20, 1972, by unlucky chance the very same day that the 3rd Brigade, to which he was then attached, was being withdrawn from combat duty. Breuer, who was buried at the post cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was posthumously nominated for the Silver Star.

The second name on the list of Vietnam casualties is Marine Lance Corporal Alan Dale Carson, who was also born out-of-state (on January 8, 1948 in Parsons, Kansas), but attended school in Richardson, where his parents were living when he received a fatal wound while in combat near Da Nang on March 4, 1968, only a month or so after arriving in Vietnam. He was buried at Restland Memorial Park.

Next on the list is Army Spec 4 Peter Karl J. Christian, of Company D, 159th Engineers Group, 92nd Engineers Battalion, who was born in Germany on February 10, 1944, but had lived in Richardson, where he worked for the Chambers Plumbing and Heating Company for nine years prior to his death. A recently-naturalized U.S. citizen, he was killed in action in Military Region 3, Gia Dinh, on April 8, 1970, about three months before his tour of duty was due to end. At the time of his death, his wife lived at 108 Bowser Road in Richardson's Mark Twain neighborhood. He was buried at Laurel Land Cemetery in Oak Cliff, Dallas.

Skipping Kirk D. Greenawalt, previously mentioned, the next name on the list is Air Force pilot Donald M. Klemm, whose hometown of record was Youngstown, Ohio. Although Colonel Klemm's wife, Marlene, later moved to Richardson, when his plane was shot down during a bombing raid over North Vietnam on June 11, 1967, she resided in nearby Garland. Altogether, Klemm, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal and a Purple Heart, flew eight-eight missions before being initially listed by the Department of Defense as Missing-in-Action. It wasn't until 1973, that his status was changed to "Killed-in-Action." Although his remains were never recovered, a memorial marker was later placed in Restland Memorial Park. He was thirty-seven-years-old when he went missing.

Like Lt. Breuer, Army Warrant Officer First Class James Taylor Pace was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Born on June 2, 1944 in Richardson, he was a graduate of Richardson High School, after which he enrolled at East Texas State University in Commerce (now Texas A&M at Commerce). He and his wife, Linda, had been married slightly less than three years when the chopper he was piloting was shot down in Military Region 4, Ba Xugen, on February 27, 1970. He was buried at Plano Cemetery.

Following Pace's name is Sgt. Michael Raymond Padilla of Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. Born on April 26, 1943, Padilla died of "small fragment wounds" (one unnamed source says "friendly fire") in Military Region 2, Binh Dinhin, Republic of South Vietnam on March 3, 1967. Padilla's connection to Richardson is unclear. According to two newspapers, he was a resident of Rowe, New Mexico. He was buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Next on the list is Army Spec 4 Kenyon G. Wellman, Jr., an infantryman whose home of record was Richardson, Texas when he was killed in action by gunfire in Military Region 3, Binh Duong, Republic of South Vietnam. Born in Abilene, Texas on November 26, 1947, Wellman was graduated from Hillcrest High School in Dallas, after which he enrolled at El Centro College. When he died at age twenty, he had only been in Vietnam for about four months. He was buried at Restland Memorial Park.

Col. Lawrence Whitford is the next-to-the-last name on the list of Vietnam War casualties. Like Colonel Klemm, Whitford was an experienced Air Force pilot. He was attached to the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, Tuy Hoa Airbase in South Vietnam, when he was shot down over Laos on November 2, 1969. Curiously, the wreckage of his aircraft was found, but no remains, leading to speculation that the forty-year-old pilot was captured alive and taken prisoner. To date, he is still listed by the Department of Defense as M.I.A. Although born in Cedar Falls, Iowa (on June 9, 1939), at the time his plane went down his home of record was Richardson.

The final name on the list of Vietnam War casualties is Army PFC Jimmie L. Woolfolk, who was single and only nineteen (born October 1, 1948) when he was killed in a helicopter crash on December 19, 1967 in Military Region 3 -- Binh Duong, South Vietnam. Woolfolk, whose home of record was Richardson when he died, was afterward buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

Iraq War
Public Domain, Courtesy Wikipedia.

Corporal Tyler Seth Trovillion was born January 29, 1982 in Longmont, Colorado and was a 2000 graduate of Plano East High School and a former student at Collin College. Although his name is also included on a similar memorial in Collin County, when he died, his home of record was Richardson. In Iraq, he was attached to the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, Alpha Company, Second Platoon, homebased at Camp Pendleton, California. On Tuesday, June 14, 2005, while his unit was deployed near Ramadi, some 70 miles west of Bagdad, he and three fellow Marines were killed by a roadside bomb. Trovillion is buried at Ridgeview Memorial Park in Collin County.


William Dan Gant, Major, U.S. Air Force. Major William Daniel Gant, who is buried at Big Springs Cemetery in Garland, was born November 10, 1933 and began his career in the Air Force on May 3, 1956. He was attached to the 434th Tactical Fighter Squadron at George Air Force Base in California when he died on August 22, 1969 at Indian Springs AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. He had served in Vietnam and was testing new equipment when he died in a plane crash. Although born in Plano, his home of record at the time of his death was 528 E. Tyler Street, Richardson, Texas 75080.

Jimmy Rhea Kemp, Seaman, U.S. Navy. Jimmy Rhea Kemp, who is buried at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas, was born October 16, 1938. A 1956 graduate of Richardson High School, where he had played football and basketball, he enlisted on January 8, 1957 and was attached to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Antietam (CVS-36), when he died on Christmas Day 1958 in a motorcycle accident in Jacksonville, Florida. His home of record was 325 Apollo Road, Richardson, Texas.

John Merle Patterson, Private First Class, U.S. Army. Private Patterson, a 1963 graduate of Richardson High School, "was killed [on October 31, 1964] when the truck in which he was returning to Camp Casey near Seoul [South Korea] from a football game skidded into a ditch." Born on October 25.1964, his home of record was 921 Chadwick Drive, Richardson. He was buried, however, at the Louisburg Cemetery in Miami County, Kansas, where his family was originally from.

Vinson Paul Smith, Private First Class, U.S. Army. Private Smith, whose home of record at the time of his death on December 10, 1973 was 624 Westwood in Richardson, Texas, was born on May 10, 1950. He enlisted on November 27, 1972 and was on active duty when he died of carbon monoxide poisoning, seemingly accidental but unclassified, while apparently working on a motor vehicle in the garage of his in-laws, Mr. & Mrs. George Jennings, at 6516 Winifred in Fort Worth. His 22-year-old wife, Vicki Jennings Smith, had been killed only a little more than a month earlier (on November 4, 1973) when the car in which the newlyweds were traveling overturned on an autobahn near Darmstadt, West Germany. Smith was buried at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas.

Arthur Wayne Staecker, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Lt. (jg) Staecker, born September 13, 1944, was a graduate of Richardson High School and a married U.S. Navy pilot who was killed in a mid-air collision near Dinuba, California, on May 17, 1968, while stationed at the Lemoore Naval Air Station at Tulare, California. He was buried at sea, from the deck of the U.S.S. Hancock, near San Francisco.

Memorial Park looking toward Centennial Drive

This website copyright © 2021-2022 (except where noted) by Steven Butler, Ph.D. All rights reserved.