Restoration Program

A group of local officials, community leaders and interested individuals formed a committee in the Summer of 2010 to oversee the restoration of the main gate into Wolters Industrial Park on Highway 180 E on the east side of Mineral Wells. The restoration will “capture the essence of the sign as it was when the Primary Helicopter School was active”, said Beth Watson, one of the committee members.

Leaders for the group elected at the group’s meeting on July 27, 2010, are Dr. Ronny Collins – Chair, Mary Creighton – Reporter and Jim Messinger – Treasurer.

The project was expanded at a previous committee meeting to include three phases: restoration of the main gate, installation of a parking area adjacent to the east side of the gate that includes signage describing the gate and its history and installation of a second parking area on Fort Wolters Historical Park, the triangle of land just north of the gate where the main road splits and the current location of the Camp Wolters Historical Marker.

Later, Phase III was expanded to add a memorial at the Fort Wolters Historical Park for the fourteen recipients of the Medal of Honor who served at either Camp Wolters during WWII or Fort Wolters during the Vietnam War.

Later still, Phase IV was added to include several additional projects. The first project was to define the Camp Wolters Historical Park, primarily consisting of the original Camp Wolters flagpole and the surrounding star, located just east of Mineral Wells High School. The Camp Wolters historical plaque is attached to the flagpole. Then, it was decided to add a memorial to the area around the flagpole to honor the fourteen Medal of Honor recipients who served at Camp Wolters and Fort Wolters. Then, a project was added to restore the southern-most portion of the east roadway wall at the original entrance to Camp Wolters on Highway 180. The last project was to add a City of Mineral Wells historical marker on the west side of the old Camp Wolters entrance.

The four phases of the restoration effort are defined in more detail below.

Phase I

Phase I included cleaning and repainting the overhead sign and support structure at the entrance to Fort Wolters, repair of the masonry walls, installation of landscaping and installation of the 1967-era name on the sign: U. S. Army Primary Helicopter Center, Fort Wolters, Texas. Also added to the overhead sign was a set of wings and signs representing the insignia of the 4th Army (on the left side) and The Primary Helicopter Center (on the right side).

Wings were milled from a solid block of aluminum by Antelope Tool Co. in Mineral Wells.

Volunteers install restored arch at the Main Gate

Volunteers B.J. Ashley, David Kessler, and B.J. Ashley, Jr. restored the Hiller OH-23 helicopter that is now installed at the Main Gate.

Volunteer Jerry  Staggs restored the Hughes TH-55 helicopter that was installed at the Main Gate.

Installing the TH-55

Getting ready to unload the restored arch

Cleaned and repainted arch ready for transport to the Main Gate

The helicopters used were of the same types originally mounted on each side of the entrance sign and were provided by The National Vietnam War Museum. A Hiller OH-23 was mounted on the left side of the gate and a Hughes TH-55 on the right. The OH-23 was donated by Fort Wolters Helicopters to The National Vietnam War Museum for this purpose. Both helicopters underwent significant restorations prior to placement at the gate.

New signs were placed in front of the walls next to the helicopters on either side of the main gate to carry the current name of the park, Wolters Industrial Park.

Phase II

Phase II included the installation of a new asphalt parking area large enough for six to eight cars, along with interpretive signage carrying the history of the Main Gate. A picnic table with two benches, landscaping around the parking area and lighting are also planned.

Phase III

Phase III included the installation of a new asphalt parking area large enough for six to eight cars on Fort Wolters Historical Park, the triangle of land a few hundred feet north of the Main Gate. Interpretive signage nearby will carry the history of the post from its early days as Camp Wolters, later days as Fort Wolters and, eventually, its conversion to Wolters Industrial Park.

Phase IV

This phase adds a memorial to Fort Wolters Historical Park to honor the Medal of Honor recipients who served at Camp Wolters and Fort Wolters. The park also includes a small playground helicopter made of steel tubing and signage that shows a map of Camp Wolters as it was in the 1940s, including buildings and other facilities, and a map of the post as it is today that includes a list of current residents and their contact information. Landscaping around the parking area, as well as several picnic tables, benches and area lighting, are future additions planned for the historical park.

The Medal of Honor Memorial is currently being completed and will be dedicated in ceremonies planned for 10:00 a.m. on March 23, 2013.

Funding the Restoration Program

The estimated cost of the program’s four phases was $100,000, later expanded to $150,000 to cover the cost of the Medal of Honor Memorial at the Fort Wolters Historical Park. The National Vietnam War Museum, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, has functioned as a Fiscal Sponsor for the program, so that donor contributions to the various projects would be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Contributions to the restoration program may be made by mail using a check or money order made to The National Vietnam War Museum and mailed to P. O. Box 146, Mineral Wells, TX 76068-0146. Please add a notation on the check that the contribution is for the Wolters Restoration Program.

Online contributions may be made using a credit card on the museum website at www.NationalVNWarMuseum.org. Select Gift Shop on the Home Page navigation bar and then scroll to the order form in the Gift Shop, where you can enter your information and indicate that the contribution is for the Wolters Restoration Program.

Sponsorships

Sponsors are still being sought for significant components of the project, such as the Medal of Honor Memorial, Camp Wolters entrance wall restoration, Fort Wolters Main Gate sign painting, signage, landscaping, parking lots, lighting, electrical power systems, water systems, etc. Please contact the committee members below for more details about the restoration effort.

Recognition of Contributors & Sponsors

Contributors to the restoration program will be listed on project signage. Sponsorships are available for specific components of the project and all Sponsors will receive special recognition on signage near those components.

Restoration Program Committee Members

James Collins, Chair

Mary Creighton, Secretary

Jim Messinger, Treasurer

B. J. Ashley

Billy Jack Ashley, Jr.

Steve Butcher

Col. Willie H. Casper (Ret)

J. C. Colton

Cody Houston

Lance Howerton

David K. Kessler

Roger Patel

Wayne Sanderson

Terry Siegel

Jerry Staggs

Beth Watson