by RD Foster and Mary Carole Strother
On Saturday, December 17, 2022, a time capsule was buried at the Veterans Memorial Park in McKinney at 6053 Weiskopf Avenue in McKinney. Over 140 items were placed in the square 12”x12”x12” black stainless-steel box, designed, crafted and donated by Corbin Ringley of McKinney. A black granite slab was placed atop the buried capsule and was donated by Terry Turrentine Irby of Turrentine, Jackson and Morrow Funeral Home.
The items in the capsule include, challenge coins, uniform patches, insignias, decals, caps, medals and ribbons, books, the printed program from the 2011 memorial wall dedication and dozens of other objects of military memorabilia. The many pieces represent the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the War in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are two pieces of actual bomb shrapnel in the capsule. One is from Vietnam, the explosion of the ASP-1 (Ammunition Supply Depot), from April 29, 1969, donated by RD Foster, USMC. Foster was a part of the marine corps unit that guarded the ammunition supply as it exploded that day in DaNang. Hot shrapnel rained to the ground below. One piece of that shrapnel landed just inches from Marine Corps Corporal Ronnie D. Foster of McKinney and stuck into the side of a sandbag. Once the shrapnel cooled, Foster put it in his pocket. Grateful that his life had been spared he kept that piece of shrapnel as a reminder. Now that piece of shrapnel will be preserved in the capsule. The other piece of shrapnel is from Iraq, the explosion of an IED (improvised explosive device) from James Bishop, US Army.
Some of the most emotionally charged keepsakes going into the time capsule are those from veterans who died during their service, including a dog tag from Foster’s best friend, Marine Corporal Charles William “Bill” Bryan. In June of 1966, at the age of 18, RD and his good friend Bill Bryan received their long-awaited diplomas from McKinney High School. Two weeks later they were on a west-bound train with the destination of United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. Just over a year later, they both, at different times, shipped out for combat duty in the far-away, tiny country of South Vietnam.
After having served about twenty months overseas, in Okinawa, the Philippine Islands and South Vietnam, RD returned home in June of 1969. But on this trip, he traveled alone. Bill didn’t make it. Cpl. Charles William Bryan was killed in action attempting to save the lives of his recon team on 20 January 1968, on Hill 881-North, about five miles northwest of the infamous US Marine combat base at Khe Sanh, Vietnam. His valor on that day, earned him the Navy Cross, the highest award the Marine Corps gives out, second only to the Medal of Honor. His dog tag was donated by his wife at the time, Deidre Simpson Washam.
Lieutenant Russell A. Steindam’s rank epaulette is there. Russell was killed in Vietnam in 1970 and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The Collin County Courthouse has been renamed in his honor.
The white cover of Sailor Tommy Harris, US Navy and other assorted personal items are included. Tommy was killed in 1967.
Four books in the “Collin County Freedom Fighters” series, written by Ronnie D. Foster, were included in the capsule. The books tell the stories of the 431 names that are inscribed in the black granite of the Wall of Honor at the memorial.
The veteran’s memorial and time capsule are the brainchild of Marine Corporal Ronnie D. “RD” Foster who served in Vietnam from 1966 through 1969. In the mid-2000’s, Foster spearheaded a grassroots movement and fundraising campaign to honor the Collin County residents who died during military service or as the result of wounds suffered during that service. That campaign, which Foster details in the remarkably well-researched new book in his Collin County Freedom Fighters series titled The Wall of Honor, led to the wall’s construction in 2011. Foster has continued advocating for Collin County veterans since, heading up the McKinney Armed Services Memorial Board where the idea for the time capsule first emerged at one of its recent summer meetings.
Before the capsule was buried, the items were on display at the Collin County History Museum. The Time Capsule will be unearthed on November 11, 2061. The opening dates signifies the 50-year anniversary of the official memorial’s “Wall of Honor” dedication, which was held on November 11, 2011.