PHOTOS BY HENRY HARTMAN, CREATIVE IMAGES
THE MILITARY HONOR GARDEN, with some 400 bricks, was dedicated in an official flag-raising ceremony June 10 at the opening of the Victoria Educational Gardens expansion project.  Additional bricks can be purchased at cost now through Aug. 31, 2007, to honor your military loved one.
REMEMBER FAMILY AND FRIENDS in a pathway setting at the gardens with the purchase of a brick.
Webmaster note:  The deadline has passed for this round of paver orders.  Check with VCMGA to ask when the next orders will be taken.
THIS PLAQUE is placed at the foot of the fountain in the Military Honor Garden permanently commemorating military service of those honored in the brick garden.
Memories etched in stone
Bricks for the Military Honor Garden, Family and Friends pathway pay tribute to loved one
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August 16, 2007

BY CARMEN PRICE - VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER

I was a master gardener intern when I joined the Victoria Educational Gardens Expansion Committee in 2004. Eight master gardeners met almost every Thursday for two years planning the expansion.

Plans were made to construct mini gardens on the east and south sides of the Officer's Club at Victoria Regional Airport.

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION

We had indefinite plans for the concrete areas located in front of the patio, next to the original flagpoles. Then master gardener Mary Logan suggested that the educational gardens committee consider having brick honor gardens to provide the whole community a unique and unforgettable way to honor their military loved ones and friends in a permanent beautiful garden setting.

Nearly 400 bricks later, the honor gardens were dedicated on June 10 at the expansion project opening ceremony.

SHARING MEMORIES

The most memorable part of this project for me was having the honor of talking to the many people who telephoned to request forms for the Military Honor Garden and the Family and Friends Pathway. I don't have room to tell you every story I heard, but I'll share a few of the ones I will never forget.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Vance Cribb, who delighted me by talking about their wedding day. They got married at the Foster Field Base Chapel on April 28, 1957, and held their reception at the Officer's Club. When Lt. Vance Cribb and the former Annie M. Dusek went to the club to set up for their reception, they discovered that all of the patio furniture had been thrown into the swimming pool, which is now the water garden at VEG. Servicemen were blamed for this mischievous prank. They had been promised new furniture and when it didn't arrive, they took action. Mrs. Cribb also mentioned that Foster Field had received 8 inches of rain on their wedding day.

In another story about one of the bricks in the military section, Kathy "K2" Kroman spent 11 years in the U.S. Air Force from 1984 to 1995. She worked in the 436th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron at Holloman AFB in Alamogordo, N.M. All of the training pilots were given call signs. Kathy was not a pilot but was given the Call Sign "K2" by her squadron commander for her initials. She has used that name throughout her military career and continues to use it today.

Staff Sgt. Kroman was stationed at different Air Force bases throughout the world and had various assignments, which included being an assistant base records manager to participating in NATO Exercises/Inspections "war games." In August 1992, she was deployed as part of the assignment team to Homestead AFF, Fla., where Hurricane Andrew made landfall in southern Florida and southwest Louisiana. This hurricane caused more than $26 billion in damages and 26 deaths with most of the damage in southern Florida.

She remembered speaking to the families about their horrific experiences during Hurricane Andrew. Some of them spent days living in their cars without much food or water when their homes were destroyed.

She claims this was the highlight of her career, and was glad to be able to "provide support and relocation assignments to military families devastated by the disaster." Kathy's and her husband's records of military service are symbolically etched in the bricks at VEG.

My last story is about Spc. Gary Walters, who was killed April 24, 2005, by an improvised explosive device near his Humvee in Baghdad. This Texas soldier was born on May 14, 1973, in San Antonio. He served his country in the U.S. Army while assigned to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. He is the recipient of the Purple Heart, The Bronze Star Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and three Army Achievement Medals. His brick is located next to those of family members in the garden.

HONOR LOVED ONES

I volunteered several hundred hours to this gardening project making a special place for the men and women who have served our country in time of war and peace. There are several benches as well as a pergola, gazebo, and arbor to sit and view the brick gardens and reflect on memories of loved ones. I hope you will join me in placing a paver in the Military Honor Garden or Family and Friends pathway located at the old Foster Field Air Base.

Due to popular demand, the Victoria County Master Gardener Association is offering pavers for the second phase of this expansion. If you would like to pay tribute to your beloved spouse, father, son, brother or sister, and you missed the first deadline, space has been determined for 600 additional military honor garden pavers available for purchase at cost. The pavers are earth tone in color, with glass-etched letters in midnight green.

The Path of Family and Friends is the second brick garden in the garden expansion area, designed to remember family and friends. Existing pavers are inscribed in an oatmeal-colored brick. Several hundred slots are available for purchase. See details in the accompanying box regarding bricks in both of these garden areas.

DEADLINE
The deadline for ordering bricks for the memorials is Aug. 31. These brick gardens will be closed indefinitely after the deadline, and brick purchasers will be sent a postcard when the pavers are in place and ready to be viewed.

BUYING HONOR GARDEN BRICKS
Don't miss this final opportunity to purchase a brick. Contact Gerry at 578-4022 for order forms.
MILITARY HONOR GARDEN BRICKS
$25 (Victoria County Master Gardener Association cost)
Three lines, with 20 letters and spaces per line
Service member's name, military service area and branch of service
Honorees may be living, deceased, retired or active military
Family and Friends Pathway Bricks
TWO SIZES
$50 (4 by 8 inches)
Three lines, with 20 letters and spaces per line
$100 (8 by 8 inches)
Six lines, with 20 letters and spaces per line.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas Cooperative Extension-Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, Texas 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.