L.B. Kirby, Jr. is a hero in Howe. As a matter of fact, Kirby is a hero, period. The Howe resident earned a purple heart and seven bronze stars in World War II, making him one of Texas’ most decorated war heroes ever.
And the good people of Howe have not forgotten, nor will they ever forget.
The decision has been made to pay homage to Kirby by renaming a city street after the man. At a special ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 10, city officials will announce the official change from Bledsoe Dr. to L.B. Kirby Ave.
Fittingly, the ceremony takes place one day before Kirby’s 89th birthday.
After graduating in 1943 from Howe High School where he was a football star (he was later named to the All-Century Team) Kirby joined the Pacific theater in combat at the tender age of 18. Kirby’s military career bears the mark of distinction. He served in the First Calvary division under Gen. Douglas MacArthur through 1945 and once saved an American soldier when his unit went into a prison camp in Manila.
The U.S. Cavalry corporal was honorably discharged in October of 1945 after taking shrapnel in the back during heavy combat, wounds that took years to recover from. He spent the ensuing years raising three children and six foster children with wife Dorothy (since deceased) in the community and inspiring Howe students as he has spoken numerous times to rapt audiences at the local schools.
Count Howe City Manager Joe Shephard among Kirby’s admirers. Shephard said the changing of the street name honors not only Kirby but all of those in the community who have served their country.
“As often as I can, I ride with the Patriot Guard Riders when the Guard stands for those who stood for us. It never fails to move me when I see the flag-draped coffin, hear the reverberation of the 21- gun salute and listen as a lone bugler plays Taps. It is always a privilege to honor true American heroes,” said Shephard. “Mr. Kirby served his country with honor and valor in a foreign land. Although his generation has been described as the “Greatest Generation,”and rightly so, there are a number of American Heroes living in Howe who fought for our freedom in other wars. Along with the World War II Veterans are veterans of Korea, Vietnam and the conflicts in the Gulf. All these men and women should be hailed as heroes for protecting our way of life. The naming of the street after Mr. Kirby not only honors him, it honors all those who gave in the service of our Great Country.”
The ceremony to honor Kirby will take place at 2 p.m. at the Howe High School cafeteria.