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The monument men: Fort Worth Medal of Honor recipients memorialized

Betty Dillard bdillard@bizpress.net Three fallen Fort Worth military members – one who went down with his bomber during World War II, one fatally wounded by mortar fire during the Korean War, and one who threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers in Vietnam – have received a lasting tribute from both citizens and the city through a public-private partnership. The three – Maj. Horace S. Carswell, Cpl. Charles F. Pendleton and Spc. 4 Robert D. Law – are recipients of the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. Recipients must have distinguished themselves for valor in action at the risk of their own life against an enemy force. The president, in the name of Congress, has awarded 3,465 Medals of Honor since the decoration’s creation in 1861.

For the first time, Fort Worth’s three Medal of Honor recipients are being memorialized in an 8,000-pound red granite monument at Veterans Memorial Park located at 4120 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. The monument was dedicated during a ceremony on Oct. 18. Fort Worth businessman and philanthropist Elliot Goldman came up with the idea for the monument. Five years ago, Goldman and some friends co-founded The National Leadership Foundation, whose mission is to educate people about and preserve the history of America’s leaders. The organization supports military personnel and veterans, develops primary and secondary educational curriculums on the topic of leadership, funds leadership lecture series, collects and lends its collection of historical artifacts, and initiates programs to honor current and past military service.

While researching Medal of Honor recipients from Fort Worth, Goldman decided the city had not honored them so he took action. The war memorial, he says, is one way to thank these servicemen for their sacrifice. It’s also his effort to start a renewed focus on recognizing military members and veterans. “We ought to recognize them. These three men are from Fort Worth and are symbolic of paying the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I can be free. They really went above and beyond the call of duty,” Goldman said. “There are brave men and women who serve in the military and are willing to go out and eliminate those who want to take my way of life away from me or are simply fundamentally evil. I feel a great sense of gratitude to them and to all who serve. We made the memorial not only as a tribute to these three men but also as a tribute to all veterans.”

Goldman first approached Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price about the city partnering with The National Leadership Foundation on the project. Price referred him to City Councilman Dennis Shingleton, who represents District 7, where Veterans Memorial Park is located. Shingleton also is a veteran. He served 32 years in the Army, retiring as a colonel. He was the chief of staff for the 807th Medical Brigade and was responsible for the training, supervision and mobilization of 4,200 physicians and other medical support personnel. Shingleton jumped right in to help on the memorial project. “Elliot was right on target,” Shingleton said. “I thought it was long overdue. Not many cities can claim this and we needed to erect a monument in their honor. In my opinion, it’s an indication of the morality and character of our country to honor our war dead.” The only Medal of Honor recipient Shingleton was aware of was Horace Carswell, for whom Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth was named in January 1948. (The facility was renamed in 1994 as Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth but Carswell Field was retained). Carswell piloted a B-24 bomber in an attack against 14 Japanese ships when his aircraft was hit on Oct. 26, 1944. He ordered the crew to bail out and remained at the controls to save a wounded comrade. He died attempting a crash landing. Goldman had found Pendleton while researching other possible Medal of Honor recipients with a Fort Worth tie. A machine gunner with Company D during the Korean War, Pendleton continued firing at the advancing enemy until he was killed by a mortar burst. Goldman and Shingleton then discovered Law, who, instead of diving for safety from enemy fire during the Vietnam War, threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades. “What they did was an amazing sacrifice to the country,” Goldman said. “These are absolutely the kind of guys you want to honor in this city.”

Through a collaboration of the public and private sectors, Goldman raised $50,000 for the project. Contributors included the Amon G. Carter Foundation, the Airpower Foundation, the Heather and Elliot Goldman Charitable Fund, Lockheed Martin Co., Hillwood Development Co. and Bell Helicopter. Shingleton said it is rare for a city to participate in such a community-wide collaboration. “You never see cities step up like Fort Worth has in a public-private partnership,” he said. “Fort Worth has done it in projects like Sundance Square and Texas Motor Speedway. This is another example, on a smaller scale, as to how a city can partner successfully with the public and private sectors.” Goldman hopes the new monument not only will raise awareness of the service and sacrifice of military personnel in Fort Worth and Tarrant County but also act as a catalyst for other projects to honor them. Programs and initiatives might include new curriculum in local school districts and a wall at city hall dedicated to acknowledging all Medal of Valor recipients and those killed in action. “This is a great first step for the city and a good model of how we can partner with the city and the school district and others to honor these men and women who defend our country. It shows that the community wants and appreciates these veterans,” he said. “This memorial is not the end result of a process to honor our veterans but rather a good start on things this generation and the next can do to honor our veterans.”  

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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