(Orange, Texas)

Local News

July 24, 2012

Orange County’s Memorial to the 28 who fell in Vietnam

VIDOR — The Lutcher Stark Class of 1964 is remarkable in that 40% of its members are veterans. The class had 40 of its 100 graduates either enlist in the military or become draftees. Some would serve in National Guard or Reserve units, some would serve in active duty, some would see combat in Vietnam. Each of these veterans, especially those who served in combat has a tie with other veterans that can only be understood by veterans.

The Association is undertaking the ambitious project of building an Orange County Vietnam War Memorial. The Stark 64 Veterans Association is open for anyone to join. There are three categories, the veterans that are members of the Class of 1964, any veteran who wishes to join and be a part of the activities of the association, and any non veteran who wishes to be a veteran supporter.

Jerry Gatch serves as the Commander of the Association. There officers and an auxiliary of ladies from the Class of 1964.

When Gatch found that the Vidor Lions Club was building a veterans memorial park in Vidor, he contacted Derrick Bolt, president of the Vidor Lions Club and met with him about building a park specific to the memory of the 28 men from Orange County who were killed in Vietnam. Bolt and his club were quick to agree and to give the Stark Vets space to adjoin the two parks.

Gatch has taken information that he complied about the 28 men who were killed and published it in a book titled “28 Men Fell”. There are short bios, pictures of each man and newspaper clippings and copies of citations for decorations.

Proceeds from the sale of the book go to the construction of the park. The book is currently available at Luvs Lingerie in Bridge City and through members of American Legion Post 250 of Bridge City-Orangefield, and will soon be available in other locations in the Orange area.

Tom Windham, a local artist and graduate of the Stark Class of 1970 is working with Gatch on the concept of the park. The preliminary sketches are ready for viewing and show a horse shoe shaped wall. On the outside of the wall will be murals depicturing scenes from Vietnam. On the inside wall will be a slanted top that will contain 10” X 16” black granite plaques with the names, pictures, unit crests, and information about each of the 28 fallen warriors. The plaques will be laser engraved and full colored.

The end of the horse shoe will be taller that the side walls and contain the name of the memorial and additional scenes similar to those on the side walls.

In the center of the memorial will be a bench and in front of the bench a flag pole that will fly the United States Flag and the Flag of the Republic of Vietnam.

Windham has extensive experience in painting murals of the type that will be in this memorial. He has painted public murals on buildings in Tucumcari, New Mexico, and Jasper, Texas. After the designs of the murals are worked out Windham and his daughter, Melissa Windham Neill, also an artist will do the painting on the concrete walls. At the present time Neill is researching the best type of paint to use for the project and also whether a base coat of some kind will be needed before the paint is applied.

American Legion Post 250 is what could be considered a “co-sponsor” of the project. The Post membership has embraced the project and is giving full cooperation.

In addition the American Legion, there are several Boy Scout troops who are lining up to help. Bubba Lexicon is the Scoutmaster of Troop 62, BSA and has been visiting with Gatch about the memorial being used as projects for prospective Eagle Scouts. The Scouts could do parts of the construction project as their Eagle Scout Project.

In the preface to “28 Men Fell”, Gatch writes, “Those of us who returned from Vietnam came back to a nation seemingly upset with us for following orders. No one said ‘Welcome Home.’ We were not told, ‘thank you for your service.’ Most who had served just put aside their memories, grew their hair longer and rarely discussed their military experiences.

But, we were the lucky ones. The 28 men featured in this collection never had a chance to face their angry nation because they died in service to that very nation. The purpose of the Orange County Vietnam War Memorial is to serve as a final permanent ‘Welcome Home’ tribute to those brave heroes who paid the ultimate price in the war of our generation.”

The cost of the project is expected to be in excess of $25,000.

To donate to the memorial, or to otherwise help this effort, please contact Jerry Gatch at: 409-920-4601. You may also contact by email:

Books may be ordered by mail from: Jerry Gatch, 5 Circle D, Orange, Texas 77630. The price of the book is $30.00 plus $3.00 shipping.


Text Only
Local News
  • GOACC welcomes Computer Shak to membership

    The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed its newest member, Computer Shak, with a ribbon cutting ceremony recently.

    July 30, 2014

  • Tolman benefit set for Saturday

    A benefit will be held this weekend to help the father of a a teenage girl who was seriously injured in a motorcycle wreck this spring, which also claimed the life of his wife.

    July 30, 2014

  • BCISD to hold community meeting Thursday

    The Bridge City Independent School District wants to hear from its citizens at a special meeting this Thursday evening.

    July 30, 2014

  • Roadside debris Rental property, debris behind call for ‘Town Hall’ meeting

    City officials are asking West Orange residents and rental property owners to attend a special meeting on Thursday afternoon.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • WO council orders 11 homes demolished

    City officials approved the demolition of nearly a dozen houses at Tuesday’s council meeting.

    July 29, 2014

  • Road work to continue through Sunday on I-10

    Motorists traveling Interstate 10 through Orange County may encounter slight delays as the state’s transportation department conducts road work over the next few days.

    July 29, 2014

  • BC High School Yearbook.JPG Rising above...

    Bridge City High School yearbook students Bree Newsom, editor and Gabriel Alvarez, assistant editor, traveled to Texas A & M University in College Station to attend the Balfour Communications Workshop July 18 - July 21.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Instructor recognized LSC-O instructor receives international recognition

    An instructor at LSC-O has receive international recognition for her work as an instructor in information technology.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • New Trustee Welcome to the Board

    Nathaniel Colbert, standing at left, was officially sworn in earlier this week as the newest member of the West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District’s Board of Trustees.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sabine River 1 Have you seen the Sabine?

    There is more to the Sabine River than meets the eye, if one only looks.

    July 27, 2014 6 Photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide