The Collin County Commissioners Court held a ceremony on June 4 to rename the Collin County Courthouse the Russell A. Steidnam Courts Building. The ending of the Monday ceremony held another special meaning.
Colin Kimble and the Collin County Fallen Warrior Portrait Project presented portraits of five young men from Collin County who died in the line of duty and never returned to their loved ones. Kimball, the artist of the portraits, is a U.S. Air Force veteran from McKinney.
The portraits were donated to be added to the 54 current portraits on display in the “Hall of Heroes.” The portrait of Steidnam was the first of many to be hung in the courthouse halls. The Wall of Honor in the Collin County Veterans Memorial Park has over 385 names etched on it. Kimble said he plans on adding more. “The goal of the project is to put as many faces as possible with those names.”
The newest additions to the “Hall of Honor” are all men with ties to Collin County. Arlis K. Anderson, from Altoga, was a First Lieutenant with the US Army Air Corps, 548th Bomb Squadron and the 385th Bomb Group. Anderson was a mere 26-years-old when he was killed in action on June 26, 1943. He was shot down by enemies over the Baltic Sea. His remains were never found.
Mercer G. Abernathy was from McKinney. Ironically, he was from the same unit as Anderson, just 3 years after. He was a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Air Corps, 548th Bomb Squadron and 385th Bomb Group. Mercer was only 21-years-old — and on his 14th mission — when he was killed in action on April 4, 1945. His damaged B-17 went down in the North Sea, and his body was never recovered.
Hulette H. Abbott hailed from Nevada. He was a Private First Class in the US Army, 175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. He was killed in action just 5 weeks after arriving to the battlefield on July 14, 1944, in France. Abbott was 31-years-old at his time of death.
Gordon Neely, from Anna, was a Staff Sargent with the US Army, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was killed in action on Omaha Beach on June 16, 1944, in France.
Walter Faulkner, dubbed the “Buffalo Soldier,” was with the US Army, 9th Cavalry. Faulkner originally enlisted in 1905, served three years and was discharged. He reenlisted in 1910. Unfortunately, he did not make it home the second time. Faulkner was 28-years-old when he died while serving at Fort D. A. Russell, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on October 29, 1910.