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Courthouse naming ceremony

On Monday, June 4, 2018, at 3:30 pm, the Collin County Courthouse will officially be renamed the Russell A. Steindam Courts Building. The public is invited to the ceremony, which will take place on the first floor of the courthouse just off the rotunda.

Russell Steindam is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for giving his life for his fellow soldiers during the Vietnam War.

Russell grew up in Plano, where his family moved when he was in the fifth grade. He graduated at the top of his class from Plano High School before entering the University of Texas. He chose to join the campus ROTC, following in the footsteps of his father, Albert Steindam, who was an Army Air Corp pilot in World War II and a prisoner of war in Germany after being shot down.

A born leader and excellent academic, Russell graduated with honors in 1968 and also received his Army commission. Newly married to Mary Anne Erwin, he graduated from Officer Training School that December. The following year, Russell volunteered for duty in Vietnam.

As an Army Ranger and one of the famed MacKenzie's Raiders of the 4th Calvary, First Lieutenant Steindam volunteered to lead a dangerous night ambush patrol on February 1, 1970, four months after arriving in Vietnam. According to the Congressional Medal of Honor citation:

"On the way to the ambush site, suspected enemy movement was detected on one flank and the platoon's temporary position was subjected to intense small arms and automatic weapons fire as well as a fusillade of hand and rocket-propelled grenades. After the initial barrage, 1st Lt. Steindam ordered fire placed on the enemy position and the wounded men to be moved to a shallow bomb crater. As he directed the return fire against the enemy from exposed position, a fragmentation grenade was thrown into the site occupied by his command group. Instantly realizing the extreme gravity of the situation, 1st Lt. Steindam shouted a warning to alert his fellow soldiers in the immediate vicinity. Then, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Steindam deliberately threw himself on the grenade, absorbing the full and fatal force of the explosion as it detonated. By his gallant action and self-sacrifice, he was able to save the lives of the nearby members of his command group. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by 1st Lt. Steindam was an inspiration to his comrades and are in the highest traditions of the U. S. Army."

Russell A. Steindam, alongside Audie Murphy, is the only other soldier from Collin County to receive the Medal of Honor. The Commissioners Court, on behalf of all citizens of Collin County, is  proud to name the County's most prominent building after him.

Following the naming ceremony, the Collin County Fallen Warrior Portrait Project will present the portraits of five more Collin County young men who died while in the service of our country. These portraits will be added to the 54 already on permanent display in the “Hall of Heroes” of the courthouse. The portrait of Russell Steindam was one of the first to be installed. The next five heroes to be honored are:

Arlis K. Anderson, 26, Altoga, 1st Lt. US Army Air Corps, 548th Bomb Squadron, 385th Bomb Group.  

Killed in action 26 June 1943, when shot down over the Baltic Sea.

Mercer G. Abernathy, 21, McKinney, 2nd Lt. US Army Air Corps, 548th Bomb Squadron, 385th Bomb Group. Killed in action 4 April 1945, when his damaged B-17 went down in the North Sea.

Hulette H. Abbott, 31, Nevada, PFC, US Army, 175th Inf. Regt., 29th Infantry Div. Killed in action 14 July 1944 in France.

Gordon Neely, Anna, Staff/Sgt. US Army, 23rd Inf. Regt., 2nd Inf Division. Killed in action 16 June 1944 in France.

Walter Faulkner, 28, McKinney, “Buffalo Soldier”, US Army, 9th Cavalry. Died while serving at Fort D. A. Russell, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 29 October 1910.

The “Collin County Fallen Warrior Portrait Project” is privately funded and sponsored by American Legion “Bill Bryan” Post 110, VFW “Lone Star” Post 2150 and Collin County Freedom Fighters.com. The portraits are created by McKinney artist and US Air Force veteran, Colin Kimball, who donates his time and talents to this historic project.