Dedication date set for Red Horse Visitation Center on Aug. 16
The City of Marlin, Falls County and Central Texas have all played a historic role in the development of this great state we call Texas, and this great nation, USA.
From the prehistoric native Indians to their ancestors, and the many adventurous settlers from all countries around the world, this area has been the site of events that have helped to form a land of prosperity with a vision for preserving history and for future growth.
That vision for the future is alive and well today in two of Falls County’s residents as they look toward preserving their life work and the history it involves for future generations.
Rogers and Jean Craig have spent a lifetime in service to their country, first as members of the United States Air Force, and later as retired residents of Marlin and Falls County.
Both Rogers (Lt. Colonel RTN) and Jean (Staff Sgt.) served in combat zones and later were stationed in Europe in command posts. During that time they met and have maintained the friendship of many people across the world.
Jean served as a crew member on Med Evac flights during the Korean War and Rogers served in Vietnam with the 555th CES Red Horse Squadron (sometimes referred to as the Triple Nickel), a fraternal organization of combat engineers who served together in Vietnam 50 years ago.
The 555th was the part of the Air Force’s civil engineers tasked with the responsibility of building landing strips and maintenance supply posts for the military.
While the Army Corps of Engineers and the Navy Seabees are well known by many, the Air Force’s Red Horse Squadrons are equally crucial military engineering organizations. Each squadron has 400 airmen who are able to rapidly deploy to remote and sometimes hostile locations to provide important construction and restoration projects as well as provide perimeter defense at hostile locations.
The RED Horse units were to be disbanded after the Vietnam War but their value became so obvious that the units remain an active part of the Air Force today. Upon retirement Rogers and Jean returned to Marlin and acquired a lovely home on the golf course of the Marlin Country Club where they used it extensively to host social and political events for the community.
A number of those events hosted the reunions of the Red Horse Squadron here in Marlin. For the members of this tight knit group there exists a strong sense of pride and comradeship that has lasted a life time.
Their motto is “Once a Horseman, always a Horseman.” The Commander of the 555th Unit was Col. Maynard Hamilton who often attended the reunions. He urged the group to form a museum in Marlin to house the artifacts and keep alive the memory of the men and their families who have contributed so much to our country and have enriched the lives of our community members.
So, to this end, Rogers and Jean Craig will be donating their home to be the Red Horse Visitation Center. The Center will consist of a bed and breakfast, a museum, gift shop, event center, and fully equipped health center. There will be more details coming later as the plans develop. To begin the process of recognizing #1 Mesquite Lane as a site for the Red Horse Visitation Center, a 13,000-pound stone, prepared by Boulder Design, a company in Waco, and engraved with special recognition of different military organizations, will be put in place and officially dedicated on Aug. 16 at 11 a.m. at the entrance of #1 Mesquite Lane.
Following the dedication brunch will be served under the patio of the Craig home. Everyone is invited to attend this event that will mark the beginning of the process to honor the members of the 555th Red Horse Squadron and remain a reminder to future generations that freedom is not free, and many have paid a price to ensure it for all. Please join Rogers and Jean and all their friends in the dedication of this historical event.
More about the story of the original Red Horse Units and the contributions of those that make this dedication a special event will follow.
Please call (254) 883-5056 to RSVP or ask for more information.
Written by Elizabeth Nelson
Vice-President Falls County Historical Commission
Former Marlin Mayor