Field dedicated to Diana hero Donny Tidwell

Field dedicated to Diana hero Donny Tidwell
Donny Tidwell's military photo (Source: Family)
Tidwell in Dodgers uniform (Source: Family)
Tidwell in Dodgers uniform (Source: Family)
Tidwell's graduation picture (Source: Family)
Tidwell's graduation picture (Source: Family)

DIANA, TX (KLTV) - The upcoming dedication of a baseball field will be held to remember the remarkable sacrifice of an East Texas man who gave up a sports career to put on a military uniform.

The story began in Diana, where a remarkable baseball talent went on to be a hero.

A grave in Maddox Cemetery north of Diana marks the resting place of Donny Tidwell, a hero to the community of Diana.

"We are proud of him. We don't let him die. All our kids know about him, all grandkids, everybody," says Donny's sister Bonnie Lollar. 

In April of 1968 at the age of 21, Donny was killed in Vietnam in an ambush in the Battle of Good Friday. But there's much more to his story.

Tidwell was a huge baseball talent at Diana High School, with a thunderbolt for a right arm.

"I used to catch for him. He got up so fast I couldn't catch him anymore. He had a 100 mile an hour fastball and an 85 mile an hour curveball," says brother Roger Tidwell.

His blazing fastball earned him a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system. He played a year of pro ball, then gave it up to join the army at the height of the Vietnam War; a remarkable choice given the times.

"I know it killed my Momma and Daddy. When he left that morning I knew I'd never see him again. He volunteered to go to Fort Campbell, Kentucky to be a paratrooper. Once he made up his mind, it was made up," Bonnie says.

Friends and family will come together on Tuesday to dedicate a field in Tidwell's honor.

"He would say, 'I wasn't all that good.' He never thought he was any better than anyone else. He said he knew he was going to heaven because he spent his time in hell," says Bonnie.

For generations it will be a reminder of the true sacrifice that some make to ensure the freedom of many.

"It's going to make me feel proud, my grandkids can see it, and their grandkids," Roger says.

The dedication of the New Diana baseball field will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

In addition to the Donny Tidwell Memorial Baseball Park, a memorial scholarship is given each year to a graduating senior at New Diana High school.

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