LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In 2009, "mother nature" ripped up the memory of some of the most respected names in East Texas. Just before Christmas that year, a tornado shredded the Lufkin VFW post and the walls commemorating soldiers, past and present.
"It was a tragedy, not only to us, but for the community too," said Alfred Navarro, VFW Post 1836 Commander.
For more than two years, Navarro and members the Lufkin VFW have anxiously awaited the day when they could put the names of one-thousand 50 soldiers back out on display.
"It feels good because I know it will make the relatives happy again, you know, to see their relatives back on the walls," said Navarro.
In December 2009, an EF-3 tornado ripped through Lufkin, nearly wiping the VFW off of the map. For some, the tornado symbolized God's bigger plan for the future.
"He wanted us to build bigger and better. And, that's exactly what happened," said VFW Post 1836 member, Sam Permenter.
Now, all of the old bricks engraved with soldiers' names are being taken down in anticipation of putting up more modern looking name plates.
The VFW is allowing family members to come pick up the bricks that are being taken off of the original walls. The post spent more than 30-thousand dollars to rebuild all six walls.
"The cost of the bricks and stuff and slabs is incomparable to the history behind each of those names. Each of those names has it's own individual story," said Permenter.
It's a story that's engraved in four lines on each brick.
"It tells who they were, what ranks they held whenever they were in, what they done, where they were at," said Permenter.
The VFW says these bricks will always remind the community of each soldier's bravery and commitment to freedom.
"Someone else cared enough to go where others feared to go," said Permenter.
The VFW plans to have these six walls complete by the end of next week. They are also looking to continue building more walls in the future, so, if you are interested in honoring your favorite soldier on the wall, contact the Lufkin VFW office.