The McKinney Armed Services Memorial Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to add two names to the Wall of Honor at the Veterans Memorial Park in McKinney.

According to a press release issued Thursday, the honorees are Earnest Ashley Highsaw of the U.S. Navy and Gary Joe Lester of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Wall of Honor is in Van Tuyl Plaza at Craig Ranch.

According to Collin County Freedom Fighters researchers, who submitted the names to the Board, the two men did indeed meet the requirements for inclusion: The person must be a member of the U.S. Armed Forces; must live, or have lived, in Collin County, Texas; and must have died in the service of our country.

Earnest Highsaw

Seaman Earnest A. Highsaw, U.S. Navy, from Culleoka, had surgery for appendicitis while serving aboard the USS Raleigh in the Bearing Sea. Suffering from post-surgery complications, he was taken to a hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, where he died on July 26, 1929. Seaman Highsaw, 21, is buried at Princeton Cemetery in Princeton, Texas. 

Gary Lester

Staff/Sergeant Gary J. Lester, U.S. Marine Corps, from Plano, was killed in a helicopter crash, along with four others, while participating in a NATO exercise in the North Sea off the coast of Denmark on Sept. 14, 1982.

Rescue attempts from the carrier, USS Guadalcanal, proved futile and unable to recover any of the bodies.

A memorial stands at Arlington National Cemetery in our nation's capital in his honor. S/Sgt. Lester, 25, left behind a wife and two young children. One of those children, Amber Lester Rainey, was in attendance at the Board meeting to see her father honored.

The Veterans Memorial Park in McKinney, which was dedicated on Veterans Day on Nov. 11, 2011, will now have a total of 347 names of Collin County heroes who have given their lives for our country etched into the black granite.

According to Ralph French, chairman of the McKinney Armed Forces Memorial Board, the names will be added to the Wall of Honor by Veterans Day 2012.

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