'We can’t forget the sacrifices’: Florida city's streets to honor fallen troops
By STEPHEN HUDAK | Orlando Sentinel | Published: September 10, 2020
APOPKA, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Harvey Caldwell was a whiskerless kid in Apopka in 1944 when he watched his only brother, Harold, hitchhike off to war.
Caldwell, now 90, also remembers a Saturday not even a year later when Western Union knocked at his parents’ front door.
“I knew what it meant,” he said.
The telegram delivered news of PFC Harold Caldwell’s combat death and condolences from the Secretary of War.
Harvey Caldwell recalled the somber, 75-year-old moments Wednesday after hearing a plan by the Apopka Historical Society to recognize with street dedications his brother, who was 19 when he was killed in France in World War II, and 31 other Apopka servicemen lost in war.
No streets will be renamed, but a memorial marker will be attached to the top of an intersection sign post to honor each fallen service member, said Phyllis Olmstead, 58, who researched the city’s war casualties and outlined the project Wednesday to City Council.
The Historical Society hopes to dedicate the signs on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
“We can’t forget the sacrifices that were made,” said City Commissioner Doug Bankson, a pastor.
Olmstead said she first discussed the idea more than a decade ago with then-Mayor John Land, who had served in Europe in World War II under U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton. Land, who died in 2014 at age 94, was schoolmates with four of the lost soldiers.
“He embraced it,” Olmstead said. “He had never forgotten them, and he thought the city shouldn’t either.”
Not all were sons of Apopka, but all can be linked to Orange County’s second-largest city and all are worthy of honor and remembrance for their sacrifice in service to their country, she said. Some spent their short lives in Apopka. Others owned land in the city.
“They either played here, worked here or went to school here,” Olmstead said.
Two perished in the Civil War, William P. Delk and John T. McFarling, who was a physician; three died in the Spanish-American War in 1898; five were killed in action in World War II; 10 died in the Korean War; 10 were killed in Vietnam; and two died in Iraq.
Olmstead said other names could be added if she has missed anyone.
Some Apopka streets already are named for fallen servicemen.
Martin Street, near Apopka High School was named for Lt. First Class Albert O. Martin, who was commander of an air ship, “The Confederate Clipper,” which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Feb. 12, 1944, after an air battle on a mission in Italy.
Though schooled in Orlando, Martin, 24, learned to fly in Apopka, Olmstead said.
Jason Dwelley Drive, which runs past Wolf Lake Middle School and the 180-acre Northwest Recreation Complex, is named for the 1990 Apopka High School graduate and Navy Petty Officer who was killed in Fallujah in 2004 while serving his country.
But Sgt. Randell Marshall, 22, who also died in Iraq, is equally worthy of honor, Olmstead said.
She said she began thinking of a way to honor Apopka’s war dead because of Marshall, who was raised in Zellwood and played Pop Warner football in Apopka for years, but was not officially listed among the city’s lost servicemen because he had moved to Georgia.
Olmstead said his family and friends attend annual Apopka veterans' events wearing t-shirts bearing his picture and name.
The obituary for the member of the 82nd Airborne said he loved mud-bogging, rodeos and girls.
“They still remember,” Olmstead said.
Harvey Caldwell does, too.
“I’m sure lots of people went through the same terrible thing,” he said of losing his brother to war.
Caldwell said he believes his brother Harold deserves the proposed recognition and the nation’s thanks.
“He didn’t get to live a very long life,” he said.
Caldwell, a retired softball coach who lives near Mount Dora, now hopes he lives long enough to see the sign dedication.
“I’ve waited a long, long time,” he said.