CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There is a movement now underway to draw up a new design plan for a plot of land designated to honor Coastal Bend veterans.
Many veterans, even local leaders, believe a revamp to Sherrill Veterans Memorial Park on South Shoreline Boulevard is long overdue.
"You drive by it now. It's just a park," noted Councilman Mike Pusley, one of the city leaders behind the plan.
As it stands now, there are a few memorials at the park that are dedicated to POWs (prisoners of war), along with local World War II and Vietnam veterans who were killed in action. There's even a marker dedicated to the park's namesake; Warren Joseph Sherrill, the first Corpus Christi native to die in World War II.
But veterans and some leaders believe there should be more monuments, exhibits, and memorials built to represent all military branches and American wars.
"Last year, when we started the budget process councilman (Billy) Lerma, who is also a veteran, went to the city manager and said 'You know, we need to make Sherrill Park look like a veterans park.' "
Businessman Mike Scott is working with Pusley to bring back an iconic piece of military history from the war where he served two tours of duty — Vietnam.
"When you got friends, buddies, laying in the ground bleeding, you know they're gonna die if we don't get 'em out," Scott said. "And so you hear the Huey coming in. That was like a lifesaver."
For Scott, Huey helicopters were a lifeline in so many ways.
"They were gunships — they were artillery," Sccott said. "They were medivacs. They were supply. They carried troops. You never mind getting in a Huey coming back. You didn't like getting on one going out because you knew where you were going."
Call it a coincidence that during a recent dinner discussion between Scott and Pusley and their families, Pusley found out that Scott's daughter worked at Bell Flight in Fort Worth.
That's the same Bell company that built the legendary airship.
"About a week later I get a call from Mike's daughter," Pusley smiled. "She says 'Now what is it y'all are looking for?' "
A trip to the Bell "boneyard" — the graveyard for helicopters — allowed Scott and Pusley to select the Huey they will eventually bring back to Corpus Christi to be placed on the grounds of Sherrill Veterans Memorial Park.
Scott's fabrication shop will fix her up, and paint her good as new.
"The big dilemma is 'Do we paint it olive drab for the Army or Marine Corps grey," joked Scott.
The sail of the USS City of Corpus Christi also is set to find its new home at the park.
Councilman Pusley and city manager Peter Zanoni are expected to get the plan's process moving Thursday.
Last year, the city council had earmarked $100,000 for the park's makeover, with the same amount expected to be added soon.
Turner/Ramirez is the architectural firm that has been selected to help draw up the new park plan, and veterans will also soon be able to give their input through the Corpus Christi Mayor's Committee for Veterans Affairs.
More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans. Contact Veterans In Focus reporters: Greg Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org and Pat Simon at email@example.com