What was once a vision of Mary Creighton is coming to fruition after just a couple of years.On Sat., March 23, a memorial honoring Medal of Honor recipients who trained at Camp Wolters and Fort Wolters will be dedicated at the Fort Wolters Historical Park in nearby Mineral Wells.Jim Messinger, who has been involved in the project, said Creighton suggested a memorial be built honoring the Medal of Honor recipients that were stationed at Camp or Fort Wolters.“She is the kind of person that you can’t say no to,” Messinger said. “We had the Fort Wolters Gate Committee still in session, so we kept that group together for the new project.”Creighton said she has always been involved with history, so much so that it has been a lifelong passion.“When I came to Mineral Wells in 1973, I was so interested in military history,” she said. “I worked at the high school where, later, about the time I was going to retire, I discovered that the site had been the location for the headquarters for all of the mounted cavalry in the state of Texas and that it was known as Camp Wolters.”Through her efforts, she was able to have markers erected at both Camp Wolters and later at Fort Wolters.“It was great cooperation between Parker and Palo Pinto people,” Creighton said.It was in 2009 that she was approached by Mineral Wells ISD Superintendent Dr. Ronnie Collins, who suggested something be done to preserve the gates leading into Fort Wolters and again Creighton spearheaded the efforts.She said it was actually Collins that recommended the Medal of Honor Memorial just two years ago.“[Collins] really wanted it done, he just didn’t know about how to go about doing it so I took the lead,” Creighton said. “This is certainly something that both Parker and Palo Pinto Counties can be proud of.”For Messinger, he said it was an honor for him to be involved with this project.“Medal of Honor recipients are the most special of all heroes,” he said. “They are humble to a fault and don’t want recognition in general because they all say, ‘I was just doing my job.’”Medal of Honor recipients that spent time at Camp Wolters or Fort Wolters, 14 in all, whose names will appear on the monument include: 1st Lt. Charles L. Thomas; 1st Lt. Eli L. Whiteley; 2nd Lt. Audie L. Murphy; 1st Lt. Jack L. Knight (Weatherford College graduate); Staff Sgt. Edward A Carter, Jr.; 1st Lt. Vernon Baker; 1st Lt. James M. Sprayberry; CWO Michael J. Novosel; Maj. Patrick H. (Pat) Brady; CWO Fredrick E. Ferguson; Cpt. Jon E. Swanson; Maj. William E. Adams; Cpt. Ed (Too Tall) Freema and SSG. Joe R. Hooper.The event begins at 10 a.m., complete with a helicopter flyby and admission is free.“We’ll have a few Fort Wolters souvenirs on sale and donations area always accepted,” Messinger added.Special donors include: Lead Donors The Carl E Kessler Family Foundation, Clarcor Foundation (PecoFacet); Platinum - Del Belanger, North Texas Pressure Vessels; Gold - Brazos Foundation; Silver - Willie Casper, Chicken Express, Rotary Club of Mineral Wells; Bronze - American Airlines Veterans Initiatives, Bennett's Printing and Office Supply, Mary Creighton, John and Sandy LawrenceFollowing the ceremony at Fort Wolters Historical Park, Messinger invited those attending to stop just a little east of its location to the Vietnam War Museum, which has been open since 2007 with artifacts as well as a garden. There is no admission and the indoor gallery is open from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Mon – Sat and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, Ext. 102 Twitter: @LanceWinter