Memorial Day reminder of those who won’t return

Posted 5/26/22

The blackberry patch was outside of Lindale. In summer, a truck would pull into south Mineola and kids from the neighborhood would pile in the back.

For a day’s worth of picking, a youngster …

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Memorial Day reminder of those who won’t return


The blackberry patch was outside of Lindale. In summer, a truck would pull into south Mineola and kids from the neighborhood would pile in the back.

For a day’s worth of picking, a youngster could earn a dollar or two. Each kid was docked a quarter for transportation (each way). It was hard-earned pocket money. Those days for Mineola resident Anthony Wright were really social events, as it was one way that kids from Lindale and Mineola mixed.

It was also one of Anthony’s memories of his eldest brother, Lincoln Roy Wright.

With another Memorial Day, it is time to reflect on the memories many have of loved ones who never returned from the service – like Lincoln Wright.

Known as “Lank,” Lincoln was raised as the eldest sibling among the eight Wright kids. An accomplished athlete, charismatic and seemingly friends with everyone, Lank drew his last breath on May 4, 1972 in the Republic of South Vietnam. 

According to the U.S. Archives, 3,415 Texans gave their lives in the Vietnam War. From Wood County, Lank joined Douglas Dupree (d. Dec 6, 1968), Walter Joe Louis Griffin (d. June 18, 1969), Robert Low Holland (d. June 14, 1967), Bobby Pat Lindley (d. Mar 26, 1969), Robert Lee Pinkard (d. Sep. 3, 1968) and Robert Donald Walker (d. Apr. 19, 1965) among the fallen.  

The communities each of these young men were raised in – Golden, Hainesville, Hawkins, Mineola and Quitman – are yet small communities where the loss of young people leaves huge gaps in extended family.

For Anthony Wright, his big brother was someone to be emulated. He recalled his brother’s leave, after boot camp and before shipping overseas. “We all just didn’t want him to go,” he offered.

In the summer of 1972 Anthony recounted how he was awakened by the lights of White’s Funeral Home across the way shining into his bedroom window. “It was the night they brought Lank home,” he advised.

The military honors accompanying his burial at Cedar Memorial Gardens were a precursor of things to come. The Wright plots were along the fence line separating the two parts of the cemetery. Only after a section of the fence was removed for the burial would the honor guard commit to rendering full honors. 

A section of fence was removed; full honors rendered. It was put back up after the burial and stood until its permanent removal last year.

Although books could be written about that episode alone, the purpose of these words is to reflect on the young men (and women) who gave their “last full measure” while in service of the nation.

In his home on Landers Street, surrounded by photos of extended family, Anthony paused when asked about his brother. “We used to make slingshots as kids. Take some strips of inner tube and a nice Y from a chinaberry tree. He was a good shot.”

It was a good, strong memory. Although there were photos missing of the branch of the family that would have been Lank’s, there was solace and power in that memory.

Recollections of the fallen should be just that, reminders of the lives that families have shared in.

Six of the seven Wood County casualties were 21 years of age or younger. One, however, Robert Donald Walker was 32, a father of six – including a set of triplet sons. 

Walker, a stand-out athlete at Mineola High School (class of 1950) went on to the University of Houston and attained a commission. He completed aviation training and, as a helicopter pilot, was involved in one of the largest air assault operations of the war. 

The comments of his eldest daughter, Karen Walker-Hendley, posted in 2005 to the website Wall of Faces, place his sacrifice in perspective. She wrote, “What I remember most was his love of play, his love of my mom, and his love of flying.”

In the hall next to the entrance to the gymnasium at Mineola High School is a plaque honoring Walker. He is the only member of the Hall of Honor who perished while serving his country.

In Golden there is another shrine to a fallen soldier. It is in the home of Teri Fox, whose uncle Robert Holland or “Robbie” was killed in action in Hua Nghia Province in June 1967. 

Visiting Fox can automatically connect one with Robbie Holland. From her back door one can see the small home across the long pasture where he grew up, the pond where he fished and in which he was baptized, and the home of his neighbor and friend, the late Truman Hackler. 

Fox recounts that Robbie was a horseman and would often assist local ranchers with their herds. Despite having attended his early school days in Golden, he transferred to Quitman in high school so that he could play football. 

Fox has become the caretaker, of sorts, of family papers. She retains all the letters that Robbie wrote to his mother while he was in the service. She also has each sympathy card which was received by the family upon his interment.   

The maternal side of Holland’s family were among the very first settlers in Golden. The family was, and remains, connected to the land. Driving down the narrow county road past their holding takes on a new meaning as one considers that pond behind the Holland’s homestead – where a young man was baptized, and fished. 

One young man came full circle in his short life. Bobby Pat Lindley was born in Wood County to Tommy and Billie Lindley. The family moved to Houston when Bobby was a boy. It was in Houston where he matured, graduated high school and entered the Army. Before he departed overseas, he became engaged to be married.

According to a post on a veterans-remembrance website, while on an operation in March 1969, Bobby was acting as a stretcher-bearer evacuating a wounded soldier when a land mine explosion detonated. The three stretcher-bearers and the wounded soldier were killed. 

The Lindley family can trace their roots in Wood County to 1849. Since his departure for Southeast Asia, his parents had relocated back to Wood County. So it came to pass that when Bobby was returned home, it was to Wood County and interment at Roselawn Gardens Memorial Cemetery.  

In a remarkable show of respect, some 45 years later, Bobby’s betrothed attended the services for his mother, Billie, upon her passing.  

Should a reader desire to pay respects to these young men, five of them were laid to rest in local cemeteries. 

Robert Holland is at peace in Golden Cemetery. His headstone is easily found, as his neighbor Truman Hackler had a flagpole erected at his gravesite. 

Walter Griffin, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for bravery in battle, is interred at Beaver Cemetery adjacent to the Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Hawkins. 

Bobby Pat Lindley is at peace at Roselawn Gardens in Mineola.  

Robert Pinkard rests in Rockfield Cemetery, just out FM 49, and Lincoln Wright is among family at Cedar Memorial Gardens.