By Rose L. Thayer
Fort Hood Herald
Patrick Turck is passionate about his volunteer work, but he prays for the day he can stop.
Turck serves as the president of the Central Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial Association, which is responsible for the largest memorial at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.
"I hope I can stop someday, I really do," he said. "I hope a year or two from now there will be zero names on the list and I can say, you know, let's just donate the rest of our funds. I pray for that day to come soon."
Turck got involved with the memorial while serving as a Killeen police officer in 2006 and has continued to support the association since retiring.
The Killeen VFW Post 9192 also helps with fundraising and support for the memorial, including helping with the annual Memorial Day service, when each new stone is dedicated.
"It's part of our charter that we need to take care of our soldiers and their families," said Lupe Lopez, past commander of the post. "We love it."
The memorial, consisting of seven large black stones, includes the names and photos of any service member killed supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan who lived in or called Central Texas home. The committee set the boundaries at Bell, Williamson and Coryell counties. While the memorial includes many Fort Hood soldiers, it also lists service members of other military branches who are from Central Texas and stationed elsewhere.
Each stone lists the names of the service members on one side and photos of them on the other.
"As you come in off the memorial path ... instead of just seeing lists of names on a stone, what you see now is over 600 pictures - 600 people looking back at you," said Turck. "So as you're standing in the middle of the circle all these people are looking back at you. ... We wanted to show that these people were real people - not just names on a stone. That they are husbands and wives, fathers and daughters."
One day a couple of years ago, he said, an elderly lady approached him and identified herself as the grandmother of a soldier honored on the memorial. Turck said she told him she visited the memorial each week and kissed her granddaughter's picture.
"So I went out there a few days later and there was lipstick on her picture," said Turck. "That was all the fuel I needed to keep going."
Each year a new stone is dedicated at the cemetery on Memorial Day. In 2010, 10 service members from Central Texas were killed so the group decided to combine the stone with the deaths of 2011.
On Memorial Day this spring, a stone with 42 names will be dedicated.
"That's a day to remember the fallen heroes," said Lopez. "That's what they are - fallen heroes."
Each stone costs about $11,000 to build and place.
T-shirt sales are the main fundraiser right now, because the association was able to do enough fundraising up front in 2005 to support the memorial through 2013.
Later this year, Turck said, the group is planning to raffle a motorcycle with a custom paint job.
"There are so many family members that have expressed appreciation for what we do that we are going to continue to do it," he said.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.
Central Texas Fallen Heroes, 2010-11
This list is arranged chronologically by date of death, in 2010 and 2011. The Central Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial Association encourages family members to submit photos of their loved one to be used in the memorial. To submit a photo, correct a spelling or rank, or to call attention to a name that is missing, contact Patrick Turck at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 681-2224 by the end of February. For more information on the memorial, go to www.centexfallenheroes.com.
Spc. David A. Croft Jr.
Spc. Christian M. Adams
Capt. Jason E. Holbrook
Pfc. Alexis V. Maldonado
Pfc. Diego M. Montoya
Pfc. Barbara Vieyra
Sgt. Mark A. Simpson
Spc. Donald S. Morrison
Pfc. David R. Jones Jr.
Cpl. Shawn D. Fannin
Pfc, David D. Finch
Sgt. Michael P. Bartley
Sgt. Martin Lamar
Staff Sgt. Mecolus C. Mcdaniel
Staff Sgt. Christian S. Garcia
Staff Sgt. Quadi S. Hudgins
Staff Sgt. Jorge A. Scatliffe
Sgt. Vorasack T. Xaysana
Pfc. Antonio D. Stiggins
1st Lt. Omar J. Vazquez
Spc. Robert M. Friese
Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibodeau
Pfc. Matthew J. England
Staff Sgt. Nicholas P. Bellard
Sgt. Glenn M. Sewell
Staff Sgt. Russell J. Proctor
Spc. Dylan J. Johnson
Spc. Matthew R. Gallagher
Sgt. Robert G. Tenney Jr.
Capt. Matthew G. Nielson
Capt. David E. VanCamp
Sgt. Steven L. Talamantez
Cpl. Frank R. Gross
Staff Sgt. Estevan Altamirano
Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro
Sgt. Paul A. Rivera
Capt. Shawn P.T. Charles
Sgt. John A. Lyons
Pfc. Adam E. Dobereiner
Sgt. Noah M. Korte
Spc. Kurt W. Kern
Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire