COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – During a special session of the Collin County Commissioners Court Monday, donations of 8 new portraits of U.S. Servicemen who died in battle were accepted. They will join another dozen or so already hanging on one wing of the courthouse.
“For me it’s a validation of the courage and the sacrifice he made not only for my family but for our country,” said Danny Hoffman, who was barely a teen when his older brother, Charles, died in Vietnam. Charles Hoffman had originally been too overweight to join the service. But he was determined. He lost 100 pounds to sign up. He never regretted it.
“I always feel like he’s with me, no matter where I’m at or where I’ve been I always feel like he’s a part of me,” Hoffman said adding, “It’s a very emotional day but I’m very proud to be here.”
Mary Bush echoed the emotion. “As a mother you grieve every day for your children that you lost,” she told CBS 11 News. Bush’s son, Peter Courcy, died in a suicide car bombing in Afghanistan. “He was loving, he was kind, and most of all he was a patriot and he knew that we lived in the greatest country in the world and he wanted to protect our freedoms,” she said.
Eight new faces graced the wall in the Collin County Courthouse, from World War II through Afghanistan, joining others previously rendered, including American hero Audie Murphy. Artist Colin Kimball recreated what they might have looked like had they actually posed with all their posthumous medals.
“It’s an emotional process. I try to tell their stories and I try to glorify their service without glorifying the war,” said Kimball. He uses faces of the men and when necessary photoshops uniforms or other items, then painstakingly blends them with a digital color program for lifelike effect. He also puts in a plane or tank or something the serviceman did to enhance their individuality.
Kimball also brought pieces of shrapnel taken from his own father during the elder Kimball’s fighting days. “My father was struck by these in Vietnam and he brought them home,” he said adding, “I just wanted people to comprehend what he went through.”
He gets help on the men’s backgrounds and personalities from Vietnam-era Marine R.D. Foster, who says he can’t always trust military or newspaper records. “When I find a new name and do a story on them I try to find a family member or somebody that knew him because the facts that you find aren’t always exactly correct.”
These men were incredibly young; three of them just 19; two more 21; the oldest 26. It was feared that their life stories were so short that if those stories weren’t commemorated they might be lost for good.
“As a mother we always worry, ‘Will our children be remembered when we are no longer here?” asked Mary Bush. “ When people do things like this and have a permanent fixture, it eases our minds so that we know he’s not just another name and another number, he was a person.”
Men whose honored images exist beyond their too-brief lives.
R.D. Foster. provided more detailed information about the men below:
♠The portraits of eight Collin County men who died in the service of our country will be presented for permanent display at 11:00 a.m., Monday, November 10, 2014, in the main lobby of the Collin County Courthouse, 2100 Bloomdale Road in McKinney. The six soldiers and two Marines are from McKinney, Frisco, Plano and Wylie, and represent World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. This will be the third installment ceremony of the Collin County Fallen Warrior Portrait Project and will be hubg next to the ten portraits that are currently on display. The goal of the project is to put as many faces as possible to the 365 names listed on the “Wall of Honor” at the Veterans Memorial Park in McKinney. The eight heroes to be honored are:
Staff Sergeant Bobby J. Younger, 19,McKinney High School graduate, US Army Air Corps. As a crewman on a B-17G Flying Fortress, Bobby served as the belly ball turret gunner with the 323rd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group in Europe. On November 4, 1944, on his 13th mission in a plane christened “Bomber Dear”, he was shot down on a bombing mission over Merseberg, Germany, with all hands lost. Bobby’s name is listed on the “Tablets of the Missing” at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Belgium.
Private First Class Robert W. “Robby” Robinson, 22, McKinney High School Class of 1946, US Marine Corps. Robby enlisted in the Marine Corps at the end of WWII and was discharged in 1949. When the War in Korea broke out he re-enlisted and went into combat with D Company, 1st Marine Tank Battalion. After surviving the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, known in Marine Corps history as the “Frozen Chosin”, PFC Robinson was killed in action February 22, 1951, in house-to-house fighting in Hoengsong, Korea. He is buried at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas.
Private First Class James E. Malone, 21, McKinney High School Class of 1966, US Army. In Vietnam he served as a “Screaming Eagle” Paratrooper with 501st Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. On February 3, during the Tet Offensive of 1968, James was killed in action while heroically attacking a heavily fortified enemy bunker complex near the DMZ. PFC Malone was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery. He is buried at Williams Cemetery, McKinney.
Specialist 4th Class Charles E. Hoffman, 19, McKinney High School Class of 1966, US Army. Charles enlisted in the Army and in Vietnam served as a Field Combat Medic with1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, known as the “Golden Dragons”. On February 9, during the 1968 Tet Offensive, Charles’ unit came under a heavy enemy mortar barrage. In complete disregard for his own life, Spc. 4 Hoffman went from one wounded soldier to another, administering life-saving first aid. He was killed when a round exploded close to his position. Charles was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery, Huntsville, Texas.
Corporal Tyler S. Trovillion, 22, Plano East High School Class of 2000, US Marine Corps. While serving his second tour of duty in Iraq, on Wednesday, June 15, 2005, Tyler’s unit was involved in a combat operation near the city of Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Bagdad. He and four other Marines were killed in action by the detonation of a roadside bomb near their vehicle. Tyler is buried at Ridgeview Memorial Park, McKinney.
Specialist 4th Class Peter J. Courcy, 22, Graduate of Frisco High School, US Army. While serving as a “Screaming Eagles” Paratrooper with 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Spc. 4 Courcy died from wounds received when a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle on February 10th, 2009, while on patrol in Khost Province, Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery. Peter is buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Private First Class Cody A. Board, 19, McKinney North High School Class of 2009, US Army. Cody enlisted in the Army after graduation and chose to become an Airborne Ranger. In Afghanistan he served with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. On October 4, 2010, a few days prior to his 20th Birthday, PFC Board was killed in action by an improvised explosive device near Mirwais, Afghanistan. Cody was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery and is buried at Fort Sill National Cemetery, Elgin, Oklahoma.
1st Lieutenant Robert F. “Robby” Welch III, 26, Wylie High School Class of 2003, University of Texas at Arlington Class of 2008. US Army, Ordinance Officer, Company B, 201st Brigade, Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke. Robby died 3 April, 2011, of wounds sustained during a mortar barrage on his position in Khost Province, Afghanistan, near the Pakistani Border, when his unit came under attack from enemy combatants while patrolling the perimeter of his forward operating base. Awarded the Bronze Star for bravery, Lt. Welch is buried at the Dallas-Fort National Cemetery.
The Collin County Fallen Warrior Portrait Project is privately funded and sponsored by American Legion “Bill Bryan” Post 110 and Collin County Freedom Fighters. The portraits are created by McKinney artist and US Air Force veteran, Colin Kimball, who donates his time and talents to this historic project.