F4D 64-0965′ Final Home: Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial – Finding Peace – Abel Danger Honors Veterans – A Salute: Low Level Fly-By
Source: KYTX News
Fighter jet joins Van Zandt Veteran Memorial
Jan 15, 2012
By Courtney Friedman
CANTON (KYTX) – After years of planning and restoration, a Vietnam era fighter jet has finally arrived at it’s new home – the intersection of highway 243 and highway 19 in Canton.
People of Van Zandt county say the jet means the world to the community, especially to it’s veterans.
Carter Clark designed the Van Zandt County Veteran’s Memorial, which now includes a fully restored FD Phantom fighter jet.
He says, “Almost tears, from it being finished. It’s taken so long! I was not able to serve in the military service and I decided this is something I could give back to our veterans.”
He says it’s the veteran’s who seemed the most proud to have the plane on their home soil.
“You talk to certain ones,” Carter says, “and tears come in their eyes.”
Veteran Ronald “Red” Montgomery helped plan the jet’s homecoming. Now that it’s finally home he says, “It’s unbelievable. So many things have happened, it’s just unbelievable.”
Clark and many other dedicated community members worked together to restore the jet.
Field McConnell flew the fighter jet for 13 years. He says restoring and getting the plane to Van Zandt was the work of many dedicated community members.
He says, “There’s a whole lot of people all around us that not only support this Veteran’s Memorial, but also the United States of America and it’s just a real pleasure, it’s my privilege to be here today.”
He describes the special plane that will always be a part of him.
“This airplane was at the North Dakota International Guard in Fargo, North Dakota from 1977 to 1990 which was in our unit.”
The plane was built in 1964, delivered to the Air Force in 1966, and flew actively from 1966 to 1991.
McConnell says, “This particular airplane always got me home and I’m glad to participate in this aircraft finally finding its final home.”
To create and perpetuate a Memorial that honors the Sons and Daughters of Van Zandt County, Texas who left to fight for freedom and never returned, with a place of beauty and reverence where families and comrades can find peace in the memory of lost loved ones. And create in all who see this monument an understanding of the magnitude of loss we all share in the name of freedom.”
The Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial Foundation is a grass roots organization of county citizens representing the communities of Ben Wheeler, Canton, Colfax, Edgewood, Edom, Fruitvale, Grand Saline, Martins Mill, Myrtle Springs, Van, Wills Point and surrounding areas. Canton was chosen as the site of the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial Plaza. As the county seat of Van Zandt County, and centrally located, Canton provides a prominent location for a Memorial Plaza for the citizens of Van Zandt County to honor our cherished military sons and daughters.
Plans to build a memorial formed in early 2005 when Ronald “Red” Montgomery, a retired Army National Guard member, approached Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches with the idea for a memorial. For months, Montgomery and Koches, along with Jim Stephens, shared the idea with veterans groups and anyone who would listen in hopes of finding a section of land to build the memorial.
Eventually, they approached the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which agreed to loan 1.5 acres of land at the intersection of State Highways 19 and 243 in Canton. TxDOT, in addition to loaning the property, is making the Memorial a beautification project, and has pledged to pay for half the cost of construction. The original projected construction cost in 2006 was $300,000.00. The rise in cost of fuel and material supplies will likely push construction costs much higher.
The Memorial Foundation is committed to constructing and maintaining a Memorial honoring our Van Zandt County military. Groundbreaking for the Memorial took place in January 2009, and construction began in April 2009.
Yet for the Memorial to achieve these goals on schedule, generous donations from individuals and organizations are needed. Fundraising is an ongoing effort. From constructing the Memorial, to maintaining a perpetual care fund, the Foundation will ensure that the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial will last for many generations to come.
Founded in 2005, VZCM, Inc. (DBA Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial) is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. EIN 20-8963395, approved February 18, 2009.
The Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial Plaza is the inspired design of local engineer Carter W. Clark, Jr. Using nature as the inspiration for the Memorial, his design invokes the respect, honor and reverence given to our Van Zandt County sons and daughters who died in the service to their country.
At the center of the Memorial Plaza will be a larger-than-life bronze statue of a kneeling soldier guarding a line of granite markers engraved with the names of fallen and missing servicemen and women from Van Zandt County. A granite archway with etchings of the five military seals will cover the path entering the center of the Plaza.
A large gazebo near the archway will give respite from the weather, as well as serve as a pavillion for outdoor public events. On the edge of the Plaza will be decommissioned military armament, including a jet airplane, helicopter, armored tank, ship’s screw (propeller), and a ship’s anchor, each representing the five branches of the military. The Memorial Plaza design includes flowing lines, curves and winding sidewalks with heavy landscaping, including shrubs and trees with the American flag flying high above.
Carter Clark has created a solice for family members, loved ones, comrades and visitors to remember our departed military citizens. His elegant design will be a lasting tribute to our Armed Forces for future generations to appreciate and admire.