I.C. Murrell — Pavilion deserves the name of hero Lt. Adam Ernest Simpson

Published 12:12 am Friday, December 20, 2019

A centerpiece among centerpieces of Port Arthur, the Pavilion hosts anything from toy drives to block parties to concerts. To see for yourself, drive by 500 Procter St. between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday to see Dr. Levy Q. Barnes Jr. help hundreds of local children have a great Christmas.

Like many cities, Port Arthur is known for honoring great people with their names on public buildings. As the downtown area seeks to blossom over the next few years, the Pavilion serves as that one location where everyone can congregate at the sound of just one word — Pavilion.

That’s not a bad thing, but Port Arthur native Thomas Jones brought up a better idea — name it after Lt. Adam Ernest Simpson.

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Considered by Jones to be the greatest drum major ever at Lincoln High School, Simpson became the first Port Arthur resident to die in Vietnam on Oct. 3, 1965. He was 26 and had served just one year when he lost his life in Quang Nam on hostile ground.

In honoring Simpson with a tribute on an online version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Cpl. Cody Barrett gave a more detailed account of Simpson’s actions in Vietnam (edited for clarity):

“… [H]e was leading a patrol coming back from an ambush in Vietnam (outside of Da Nang) when they themselves were ambushed by the VC [Viet Cong]. Volunteers were mustered to go out to aide Lt. Simpson’s patrol, but there was more motivation than organization, and it was all unfolding too quickly.

“… What I watched was the most courageous act I saw during my entire tour in Vietnam … I watched Lt. Simpson lead his men in battle, and then I watched he and the rest of the platoon fall, but not before he saluted his men before going down. There was no medal of valor for Lt. Simpson, although it was surely deserved, but what he did that day will not be forgotten by me or anyone else who knew and respected the man.”

The actions of Simpson and his 28-man patrol are also documented in Philip Caputo’s 1977 book A Rumor of War. Caputo, a former Chicago Tribune reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, served with Simpson in Vietnam.

Port Arthur is full of history lessons, and Simpson’s display of no greater love than laying his life down for his fellow man, which Colorado resident Garnet Jenkins cited from John 15:13, is one of them. Jones’ hope is that not only Simpson’s name will adorn the Pavilion but that his heroic efforts will also be honored in the Museum of the Gulf Coast.

Here’s my suggestion that Simpson’s service be taken into full consideration for the honors that we can give him.

I.C. Murrell is the editor of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at ic.murrell@panews.com

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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