Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
				Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.

History of Milam County, Texas - War Dead is Being Written

Houston, Texas -- Two hundred sixty stories. All tragic and each ending with the death of a father, son, brother or other loved one far from home. Lynna Kay Shuffield who lives in Houston, Texas is working on a project entitled "Milam County, Texas: List of Honor -- Individuals Who Have Given Their Lives in the Defense of their Country from World War I through Vietnam."

Shuffield wants these war heroes to be remembered. She is researching the U.S. military and naval records on each soldier and sailor from Milam County who died while serving his country in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Her goal is to uncover everything she can about Milam County's war dead before it's too late.

It is a nightmare to attempt to locate records which are sometimes 50 to 80 years old. Military and federal archival records involved are viewed as "worthless" by some government bureaucrats and agencies, one of whom has told Shuffield the records should be destroyed. That's a hard sell where Shuffield is concerned as she attempts to write a complete biographical sketch on each of the Milam County War Dead.

We have essentially lost most of the World War I war casualty information because it has passed from living memory and has receded far enough into the distance to provide a challenge to anyone attempting to utilize first-hand documentation.

One of the biggest obstacles to the research is the U.S. Military Records Center at St. Louis, Mo. was burned in 1973 and most all military service records were destroyed," she said. "Therefore, it is almost impossible to pull together any information on those who died in the military because the government will not undertake to re-build the service record of any deceased individual. The purpose of my project is to gather as much information that is available from various sources and preserve the history of these young men."

Shuffield, a genealogist and author of four books on the subject, credits her inspiration in writing the book to research into her family history. Several family members of her family from Milam County were killed in action, including, Charlie M. Williams in World War I, George R. Knight and O.V. Sheffield in World War II. (His family replaced the "u" with an "e".)

"I am trying to preserve the history and heritage of the Milam County War Dead so future generations will know the person is behind a name carved on memorial plaque. We will know how they died and their sacrifice will be preserved. We don't want these memories to perish. We have lost the person. We don't want to lose the memories," Shuffield said.

The somber war stories of these heroes' last moments are a direct link to U.S. and world history. "This history and knowledge must be preserved and made available to future scholars and genealogists who from the vantage point of history, can help all of us to remember the sacred sacrifice these noble individuals made for our country," said Shuffield.

Committed to history as "steadfast, dependable and aggressive in the defense of their country" Milam County's war heroes were decorated with medals and honors. They perished in prisoner of war camps, at Pearl Harbor, on Korean battlefields, and in the Vietnam provinces of Phuoc Long, Binh Long, Tay Ninh, Thua Thien, Kontum and Hoa Nghia.

During World War II, they died in ground fighting or in air combat over Europe. The ocean claimed some through great naval battles in the Pacific, burials at sea or mysterious disappearances. One Milam County native sailed aboard the USS CYCLOPS, a collier during World War I that disappeared at sea in the Bermuda Triangle, she said. Another was aboard the USS HOUSTON (CA-30) when it was sunk by the Japanese in March 1942.

This research project is a key to a motherlode of genealogical data and should grow in significance as our need for 20th Century military information increases. Right now, this project is the only one of its kind in the State of Texas and represents a whole new path in genealogical research, with fresh possibilities and discoveries.

Shuffield said families are invited to provide information for the project, including photographs, military records, old newspapers stories or obituaries, letters and other documentation.

"There will be no charge or fee to any family," she said. "There is so much rich history here. We have few living links to World War I left and our links to World War II are slowly fading. If we don't stop right now and save the material and memories, we are going to lose this history. It's preserve or perish and we need to preserve the history of the Milam County war dead."

Anyone knowing family members or is interested in the project is asked to contact Shuffield at (713) 692-4511. Her mailing address is P.O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222. Her e-mail address is friday@argohouston.com

Lynna Kay Shuffield
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222

Telephone: 713/692-4511


"Milam County, Texas: List of Honor -- Individuals Who Have Given Their Lives in the Defense of Their Country from World War I through Vietnam"

Category: African American History | Subcategory: Articles | Tags: World War II , Texas
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 1660, 1942, 1973, Houston, Houston (Texas), St. Louis (Missouri), Texas, Vietnam War, World War I, World War II,