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06/17/15 10:46 AM #516    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

06/22/15 10:58 AM #517    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

06/22/15 10:58 AM #518    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

06/22/15 10:59 AM #519    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

06/22/15 10:59 AM #520    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

06/22/15 11:00 AM #521    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

06/22/15 11:00 AM #522    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

07/06/15 08:54 AM #523    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

07/20/15 10:13 AM #524    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)




Dragon fruits were being peddled from bicycle baskets parked along the roadside as scooters zigzagged through cramped traffic. 

The bustle of Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, was eerily calm to John Stewart when he visited in late April. It was the same type of calm before the storm he remembered from decades earlier — the first time he visited Saigon.

Forty years ago, Stewart was one of about 100 U.S. Marines who waded through frenzied crowds as the North Vietnamese tore into the city.

An 18-year-old two weeks out of training, Stewart lived through the fall of Saigon and played an integral part in evacuating hundreds of American and Vietnamese citizens.

He joined a dozen fellow Marines in Saigon this past April to commemorate the U.S. embassy evacuation and the lives of two Marines lost in the fray. 

I didn’t realize until I got home how heavy the weight was I had been carrying all these years,” John Stewart said, his Fall of Saigon 40th Anniversary commemoration hat resting on the Java Jacks table. “But I do now that it’s gone.”



John Stewart talks about his recent trip to Vietnam commemorating the anniversary of the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War. He joined a dozen fellow Marines in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City, this past May to commemorate the U.S. embassy evacuation and the lives of two Marines killed in battle. Stewart was one of about 100 U.S. Marines who evacuated the embassy as the North Vietnamese dug in. 

Victor Texcucano/The Daily Sentinel 

‘All hell broke loose’

John Stewart was born in Nacogdoches County — the son of two parents who both served and met in the U.S. Air Force. 

Fresh out of high school, Stewart enlisted in the U.S. Marines. Boot camp was followed by infantry training before he made it to the Marine Security Guard (MSG) School. 

Seven months of training passed before Stewart reported to MSG Detachment, Saigon, in April 1975. Two weeks later, Saigon fell. 

“When I got there, it was calm,” Stewart recalled. “It was like nothing was going on. That lasted for about three days and then ... they bombed the presidential palace. And then all hell broke loose.” 


Bing Crosby’s White Christmas began to play over the Armed Forces radio that April 1975 — the signal to all American citizens to begin evacuation and meet at predetermined pick-up points. 

“It worked okay for the first half a day and then the South Vietnamese figured it out,” Stewart said, adding he was pulled from his post to drive a van to pick-up locations. 

“We would show up at a spot to pick up 50 or 150 people and there would be 5,000,” he said. “So it was like swimming through the crowd.” 

Most Vietnamese were desperate, some bribing the Marines with jewels and bars of gold to buy their way onto evacuation planes. Still, Stewart said, many remained calm in their pleading. 

Evacuations took place for about two days, he recalled. The North Vietnamese shelled the nearby Tan Son Nhut Airport, leaving runways gutted and inoperable. Evacuations shifted to 50-person helicopters flying off the roof of the U.S. Embassy. Crowds began climbing the 14-foot embassy walls to flee the approaching North Vietnamese army. 

The final order for Marines to leave came after a rocket struck the post Stewart had originally been assigned to before being reassigned to the van. 

“The two that got killed, I woke them up and they took my place and another Marine’s place on post,” Stewart said. “So I would be on the (memorial) wall in (Washington, D.C.), and not one of the other guys. I used to think about that all the time.” 

The two Marines posted there, Charles McMahon, 21, and Darwin Lee Judge, 19, were killed. They were the last two American servicemen killed on Vietnamese soil, according to a National Public Radio story on the return of their bodies. The retrieval took one year. 

40 years later 

Servicemen present for the embassy evacuation joined to form the Fall of Saigon Organization, of which Stewart is a part. 

The group, not counting the approximate 10 who have committed suicide or others who have died since the fall, continue to meet a minimum of every five years. 

A suggestion was made in November to make a return trip to the city in commemoration of Judge and McMahon and the fall’s 40-year anniversary. 

Stewart signed up for the trip, but was hesitant. As he began making lists of what to bring, anxiety grew. Finally, Stewart got up, packed his suitcases, put them on his bed and everything changed. 

“It was like this weight shifted off of my mind,” he said. “And I said, ‘okay. I can do this.’” It was strange at first, Stewart said, strolling through a city where four decades ago he was being shot at on a regular basis. 

One of his fears, too, was being recognized by a local who lived through the fall — until it happened. 

“We were standing there as a group and this old man came up next to me,” Stewart said. “He just stood there with his head down. Everyone turned to walk away and he touched my elbow. I looked at him and he said, ‘you were here? In ’75?’ And I said, ‘yeah.’ And he said, ‘thank you.’ And then he turned around and left.” 

More than once, strangers or history students interviewing him have asked Stewart if he regretted going. 

“I tell them, ‘I saved or assisted in saving hundreds of peoples’ lives,’” Stewart said Wednesday. “So I don’t see my part as horrid or anything like that.” 

April 30, 2015, marked the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. Stewart and other members of Fall of Saigon attended a plaque unveiling in Saigon commemorating the two fallen Marines, Judge and McMahon. Each placed one red rose at the memorial’s base.

07/22/15 10:01 AM #525    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

08/24/15 02:38 PM #526    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

Sad to say our old Sonic is going down today....

08/27/15 09:33 AM #527    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

08/28/15 10:16 AM #528    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

Services for Bobby Joe Adams, 60, will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Sid D. Roberts Funeral Home Chapel, 3535 S.E. Stallings Drive, Nacogdoches. Interment will follow in Turnip Seed Cemetery in Nacogdoches. Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. today at the funeral home. Mr. Adams was born Aug. 12, 1955 and died Aug. 23, 2015. - See more at:

09/09/15 09:36 AM #529    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

Deeann Thompson Gillam's husband passed away over the weekend. I believe they have scheduled a memorial service for Sept. 19.

This is all that I find right now in the newspaper:

Services for Ben Wilson Gillam, 62, of Temple are pending with Scanio-Harper Funeral Home in Temple.

Mr. Gillam died Sunday, Sept. 6, at a Temple hospital.

09/25/15 09:28 AM #530    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

Sorry to hear that Wayne's sister passed away.

10/01/15 10:14 AM #531    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

The general manager of Nacogdoches’ Hampton Inn and Comfort Suites has assumed the same position at Hotel Fredonia.


“I’m super excited to be part of this project,” John McLaren said. “This will be a legacy hotel for the DeWitt family and community. I’ve never been a part of a project of this magnitude, so it’s going to be an honor.”

Nacogdoches restaurateur Richard DeWitt and his wife, Barbara, bought the 60-year-old hotel on Sept. 15. Using a 1950s motif, architect Army Curtis plans to restore the property to its original design while incorporating contemporary amenities.

“It’s going to be as the Peabody is to Memphis or the Carlysle is to Chicago or the Waldorf is to New York,” McLaren said. “There will be nothing outside of Dallas or Houston that can touch this hotel. And I’m not just fluffing it up. It’s going to be a premier landmark hotel and convention center.”

The redesign will include the entire property. From its quickly recognizable six-floor tower to its freestanding Oak Terrace, no room will go untouched.

“I’ve renovated hotels before,” McLaren said. “I’ve been through that process and this is the most expensive renovation I’ve ever seen on a property. Everything is going to be redone and done well. That is one thing I can say about Richard. When he does something, he does it well and correctly. It’s going to be quite impressive.”

DeWitt acquired the hotel from Texas State Bank after it concluded foreclosure proceedings in December 2014. It has been closed since November 2013.

“There will be suites,” McLaren said. “We want people to be awestruck. When you walk into the lobby and the rooms, we want you to have that huge ‘wow’ factor. That’s (Richard’s) and Barbara’s vision. It will exceed everyone’s expectations of what this hotel was and could be.”

McLaren said DeWitt talked to him informally about becoming general manager before offering him the job on the day he bought the hotel.

“I’ve known the DeWitt family for a few years, and I live on the same street as most of them,” McLaren said. “I’ve hunted with him at his ranch, and he expressed interest in buying the hotel and his vision for it about a year ago. Richard is one of those who, when he finds his person or identifies someone, that’s it. He’s ready to go.”

DeWitt owns Clear Springs and Auntie Pasta’s in Nacogdoches and stores elsewhere in Texas.

“John has a lot of hotel experience and a restaurant background,” he said. “He’s going to be as much help in the restaurant as he is in the hotel. With all the new gadgets they’ve got going now, we have to be on top of it to run a first-class hotel. John is a wonderful guy, and I think we can communicate well together.”

A Dallas native, McLaren, 45, has worked in the hotel industry for 27 years.

“My first job was in security while I went to school for criminal justice,” he said. “I wanted to be a police officer. Then one thing led to another and I worked mostly in hotels in Dallas. About seven years ago, we packed up and moved down here, and I worked in Longview for about two years.”

McLaren’s wife, Julie, is from Nacogdoches. She is director of revenue for La Quinta Inns.

“We met at Crowne Plaza in Dallas and worked together there,” he said. “And she said that one day we are going to raise children, but not in Dallas.”

That’s when they moved to Nacogdoches.

“And we have been here since,” he said. “I’ve done just about everything in hotel industry — from security to accounting — so I have a well-rounded education in the hospitality business.”

Also a member of the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors, McLaren started working for Hotel Fredonia today.

The hotel is expected to open in about a year. DeWitt has said it will include a steakhouse, cafe and bar.

10/08/15 09:29 AM #532    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

Obituary for Micah-Shaye Burns Fike

Funeral services for Micah-Shaye Burns Fike, 35, of Lufkin, will be held at 10 am on Friday, October 9, 2015 at First United Methodist Church of Tatum with Rev. John Harvey officiating. Interment will follow at Harris Chapel Cemetery under the direction of Crawford-A. Crim Funeral Home.

The family will receive friends from 6-8 pm Thursday, October 8 at the funeral home.

Micah-Shaye passed from this life on October 6, 2015. She was born September 22, 1980 in Longview to the late Michael Burns and Shawn (Laird) Burns. Micah-Shaye was a homemaker and a member of First Assembly of God in Lufkin.

In addition to her father, she was preceded in death by: grandparents, Helen Leo Downs, A.B. Burns, and A.E. and Bobby Joy Laird; great-uncle, Sherman Smith; and great-grandparents, Dema Redman and Zedie Burns.

Survivors include: mother, Shawn Laird Burns of Martinsville; daughters, Kylie Diane Fike and Peyton Nicole Fike of Lufkin; sister, Ericka Nicole Burns Stewart and husband John Steven of Lufkin; nephews, Bryson and Lance Stewart; niece, Jocelyn Stewart; and cousins, Karen and Brooke Seimears, Ashley Henderson, Cameron Henderson, Kason Henderson, Amy and Macey Osburn, Mac Amick, Kellie and Kyle Laird, Rebecca and Landon Lunsford, Halley and Zack Watson, Geather Weeks, Tyson and Trevor Strong, and Kacie Powell.

Words of comfort may be shared with the family at

Today's Events


OCT 8. 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM

Crawford A. Crim Funeral Home

1414 South Main Street

Henderson, TX, US, 75654

Upcoming Events


OCT 9. 10:00 AM

First United Methodist - Tatum

150 Jackson St.

Tatum, TX, US, 75691

Cemetery Details

Harris Chapel Cemetery

Fm 1794
Tatum, TX, 75691


10/28/15 09:43 AM #533    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

10/28/15 09:44 AM #534    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

10/28/15 09:45 AM #535    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

10/28/15 09:47 AM #536    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

11/02/15 09:54 AM #537    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

Just had to post this pic from the Sunday Sentinel--an article about the anniversary of DRT.

For those of you who went to Nettie Marshall--Mrs. Grimes and Mrs. Rector are pictured.


11/03/15 09:13 AM #538    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)



11/03/15 09:15 AM #539    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

11/05/15 08:58 AM #540    


Debra Jan Dobbs (Barton)

Can't resist!

Happy birthday, Randy and Ricky!

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