Portrait honors Dexter Elementary's namesake
Shelby Hamm, 7, and Michael McCoy, second-graders at Herbert J. Dexter Elementary School, learn about the school's namesake at the 40th anniversary celebration.

FORT BENNING, Ga. - For 40 years, Herbert J. Dexter Elementary School has gone without a picture of its namesake. That changed Nov. 6 when, for the school's 40th anniversary, the parent teacher organization presented a portrait of MAJ Herbert Dexter.

"That face right there," said Vicki McGorray, Dexter's oldest child, of the portrait. "That's dad's face when he chased us on Sunday morning playing Frankenstein, but we think it may have been the one he showed his men, too."

Four of Dexter's five children attended the celebration, which included performances by the children's choir and school band, a poetry reading by Aidan Sloan and words from LTC(R) Thomas Carlisle.

Carlisle is the former commander of the 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning, which is linked to the school through the Partners in Education program. Carlisle's daughter also attended third grade at Dexter.

The school, which opened in 1969, was named for Dexter, who died in Vietnam Sept. 18, 1965. Dexter was fatally wounded by enemy fire while leading a platoon of men to recapture a hill so U.S. aircraft could land safely, Carlisle said.

Dexter, who served with 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the military's second-highest award for valor.

Four years later, his widow, Beverly, and five children attended the school's grand opening.

"MAJ Dexter was a guy like many of us," Carlisle said. "He was a father and Soldier; he liked baseball and he dreamed about his children's futures. But on Sept. 18, 1965, he was called on to make a personal sacrifice."

Following the unveiling of Dexter's portrait, his children presented the school with their father's Army fatigue uniform, which was sent to the family along with Dexter's personal effects following his death.

"For you, this is a building, it's an edifice," said Doug Dexter, youngest of Herbert's children. "For us, it's dad. It's a very different dynamic so it's neat to come back and share this with you."

Another of Dexter's children, Herbert "Jay" Dexter joked that his dad would be surprised to know his nickname is Herbie.

"Dad's real nickname was 'Dutch,'" he said. "If he heard it was Herbie, I don't know quite what he would say."

Page last updated Fri November 13th, 2009 at 13:15