By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
A tribute project currently in development among local veterans may add several names to the Leonard Park military monument.
Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1922 said the identities of Corp. McKinley Brisco, Cpl. Frank Keel, Pvt. George Caldwell, Pvt. Albert Waddell and bugler Oscar Scraggins — all Cooke County natives and fallen World War I servicemen — should rightfully join the list currently etched in granite near the park’s entrance.
The addition is set for proposal to Gainesville City Council during the coming months.
“We’re going to explain who these people were and why they belong to the monument,” Marine veteran Mike Allison said Wednesday. “And I think it’s going to be a really neat thing when it is approved.”
Addition of the five names follows research that began in 2010, spearheaded by Gainesville historian Tom Carson. Curiosity following the placement of a veteran’s monument in Fairview Cemetery, he said, led him to examine military records via Veterans Administration resources and a personal visit to the Texas State Library and Archives facility in Austin.
Carson explained observing that in the course of decades of official documentation, many Cooke County enlisted men went misidentified or were omitted from the proper origin lists.
He found at least five Cooke County servicemen, he said, who slipped through the cracks.
“These men gave up their youth and gave up the possibility of having family and they lost all those things,” Carson said. “Every monument that remembers veterans doesn’t remember them all, and I think that’s a shame. The concept is that we’re going to remember these men who gave up so much. I’ve found seven in the last few years, including these five. And if good ol’ Tom Carson in Gainesville, Texas, can find seven in my town, then what about the next town and the next one? It’s untold numbers.”
Allison said VFW members officially approved the name addition during a recent post meeting. But the Leonard Park monument itself, established in 1996, remains subject to ordinances related to alterations, and those ordinances must be duly observed.
“It is city property and we have to play the game,” Allison said. “I’m trying to play the proper protocol and work through the city system.”
Allison said if the addition does meet city approval, a monument company can etch the five names into the Leonard Park monument at a cost of $150 per line. Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said Wednesday that the addition is pending consent, but added that he sees no problem with it.
“If it’s in fact substantiated that those gentlemen gave their lives, the city would certainly add them to the monument at the park,” Goldsworthy said. “if they’ve done the research and those gentlemen need to be added, the city would be 100 percent behind it, or will be. We’re just needing the request at this point.”
Historian Carson said Wednesday that he has written dozens of biographical articles related to forgotten veterans and their decorations and deaths. The official listing of veteran names, he said, along with accurate documentation and newspaper publicity, does a service to history, and to veterans, that even time will never erode.
“By getting these things written about these guys, they live again and in essence they’re born again,” Carson said. “But until it gets written down, it never happened. And that’s the wonderful thing about writing. It’s a wonderful tool.”