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James Dale Earnest was an Army warrant officer in the 1st Aviation Brigade, 175th Assault Helicopter Company, who died on July 24, 1969, in Vietnam.

James Dale Earnest was an Army warrant officer in the 1st Aviation Brigade, 175th Assault Helicopter Company, who died on July 24, 1969, in Vietnam. (HonorStates.org)

ALAMO, Texas (Tribune News Service) — Enrique Gonzalez is on a mission much different from those he undertook during his time in the military.

Gonzalez, 77, is seeking information about a fellow Alamo native, James Dale Earnest, who, like himself, piloted helicopters during the Vietnam War. Unlike Gonzalez, however, Earnest did not make it home.

Earnest was an Army warrant officer in the 1st Aviation Brigade, 175th Assault Helicopter Company, who died on July 24, 1969, in Kien Tuong when the helicopter he was piloting hovered over a seed bomb. The bomb exploded and destroyed Earnest’s helicopter.

He was 22-years-old at the time of his death.

Gonzalez said he intends to honor Earnest with a memorial, ideally one at the city of Alamo’s Veterans Memorial Park, located in the 300 block of North Alamo Road. The only problem is that he has hit a roadblock in his efforts to memorialize Earnest.

“It’s not about me, it’s about a combat soldier who got killed in Vietnam,” Gonzalez said. “ Alamo fails to honor him. Nothing.”

Gonzalez recently took his case to Alamo city officials and asked to have Earnest memorialized. The city wants to have a proclamation made honoring Earnest, but they are seeking more biographical information about the helicopter pilot.

“When (Gonzalez) brought this to me initially, I met with the city manager to see what we could do for him,” Commissioner J.R. Garza said. “Obviously, we’d love to recognize these heroes. We want to do a proclamation during a city meeting — a proclamation under (Earnest’s) name. The only thing is we would need a bio of this gentleman.”

Gonzalez has made multiple attempts to reach out to family, friends, or anyone who may have known Earnest during his short 22 years of life. Unfortunately, Gonzalez has yet to reach anyone.

The little that is known about Earnest is that he was born May 18, 1947, lived in Alamo and served in the U.S. Army and is buried at Roselawn Cemetery in McAllen.

“What we would want, if we could obtain, is just a brief biography or some history on him so that we can put a proclamation together under his name and honor him,” Garza said.

In addition to the proclamation, Gonzalez is also seeking to add a memorial for Earnest at Alamo’s Veterans Memorial Park. Gonzalez said he is willing to fund the memorial out of his own pocket.

Until then, Gonzalez hopes to reach anyone who may have more biographical information about Earnest.

“We want to honor him,” Gonzalez said. “If we get some feedback, we’ll put it to good use. We have to work with the city for this. ... He died. I don’t know if the city wants a plaque or something like that, but what are we doing to honor him? That’s the thing, we want to honor this man. It’s been too long. Let’s start somewhere and let’s welcome him home. Let’s bring him home.”

Anyone with information about Earnest can call the city of Alamo at (956) 787-0006, or the city of Alamo Museum at (956) 961-4398.

(c)2022 The Monitor (McAllen, Texas)

Visit at www.themonitor.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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