In honor of Veterans Day this year, we’ve asked our listeners to submit tributes to the special veterans in our lives. See below to read their heartfelt notes:
I would like to honor my father. He was a Marine Corps fighter pilot who was at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941. After Pearl, he was sent to the Pacific front. He also spent some time in China. He was in Korea during the Korean Conflict. He eventually retired and we moved to Dallas, where we listened to WRR every day!
My extraordinary father Francis Andrew Williams aka Willie Williams would be 99 this year if he had lived beyond 76. He served our great country as a fighter pilot in WWII based in Europe. The same day General Patton crossed the Rhine River in 1945, my father was shot down piloting a P-51 Fighter Mustang, in France. After the enemy gave up on locating him using search dogs, he swam that cold river to friendly territory with a knee injury that earned him a Purple Heart. And finished his WWII duty with some coveted silver stars. Korea was next, piloting a P-51, F-80 shooting star, and a F-86 Sabre, where he downed 3 Russian MiG’s. To end his career he flew for an American CIA company in Vietnam . He and his wife, my parents, along with 5 other siblings complete the proud American family growing up in Albuquerque, NM. At his memorial service, his fly buddies noted his deep devotion to duty and we all wholeheartedly agreed.
I am inspired by this veteran because of his actions after leaving the military are just as commendable, if not more so, as those when he served. As one knows, war is a terrible thing, and those who fight in it are not always proud of what they have seen or done. Shortly before leaving the service, three star Air Force General John Bradley was meeting with a crowd in Afghanistan when a young Afghan girl came up to him and ask if she could get a nice pair of boots like the ones he was wearing. John was so touched by this he started an organization, the Lamia Afghanistan Foundation, to help the people of Afghanistan. He named the organization after the girl who asked him about his boots, Lamia. John is humble to a fault, and since he is reluctant to press people for contributions he uses a lot of his own money plus donations from his family. I have been honored to be able help with funding for a few of his projects. He just finished a school in Afghanistan using money from his savings. Veterans like him need much more attention.
My nominees are the crew of the World War II battleship “Indianapolis” The crew participated in many of the Major Pacific battles of the war. They also delivered the components of the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island. On the way from Tinian to the Philippines, toward the end of the war, the ship was sunk by Japanese Torpedoes. After the sinking, the survivors floated around for 5 days and nights in the open Shark Infested ocean before finally being rescued. By the time all survivors were rescued there were only 317 still alive from an original crew of more than 1200. Today, only a very few are still iiving. Their story is a very compelling one.
Bud’s military career began in a High School ROTC group, retiring over 24 years later as Major William Arthur Wolfenberger, USArmy Active Reserve, having seen service in Germany, Korea, Vietnam, etc. beginning with Basic Training in Hawaii. Among his many awards, both domestic and foreign, he was a member of the 85 Below Club, a distinction you earn by jumping out of an airplane at 85 degrees below zero. Three weeks after his 80th birthday and four days after our 34th anniversary, on October 11, 2011, he breathed his last with his arms around my neck trying to help me get him from his wheelchair to his recliner. He died as a result of cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam some 40+ years earlier. He never once complained or blamed his country — a true Soldier, Officer and Gentleman to the end.
I’m here to thank both of my grandfathers, still alive and well. I’ll start with Freddie. He served in the navy for 4-5 years and with 2 children and a wife. At that time, my mother was born on a navy base because she had no choice (my grandma). Now for Roger: He served as a nurse for the army for 4 years as well, and actually is with my grandma from before (they divorced so I have 2 sets.) Last is an extra my great, great, great, great uncle was (with) General Patton. In WW1 and in WW2 he survived, a sad thing he died in a car crash on the base he was stationed at.
Our grandson John Gallina joined the Marine Reserves when he was 20 years old. When asked about going to Iraq, he felt he owed it to the Corps to go. As with most young men who served there, he came home with good and bad memories, mostly good, and lasting friendships. A few months after he came home, he met a wonderful girl, they got married and now have five fantastic children. They have had a lot of ups and downs and have taken care of each other through it all. He has been with Dallas Fire and Rescue for four years and both families are extremely proud of what both of them have accomplished.
Richard C. Foster, First Lieutenant, Combat Engineer Platoon Leader:
Lieutenant Foster’s memories of his service in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam War make me appreciate those who unselfishly serve. I’ve learned valuable historical information about this conflict. Tales of perilous helicopter landings in combat zones make me aware of the bravery of a combat soldier. Mr. Foster displays an American flag and a U. S. Army flag on his front flagpole. His backyard pole: an American flag and a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. Replacing our tattered American flag, Mr. Foster taught me the respectable way to retire an American flag: fold it neatly and place it in a paper bag for disposal. Lieutenant Foster was invited to a local event honoring our military. He donned his dress blues and proudly represented his branch of service as a veteran! God Bless Lieutenant Foster and God Bless America.
-Nancy Lee Stevens
I would like to introduce my friend, 95 years old African American, Pvt. Sam Johnson. An U. S. Army Veteran who served our country during World War II. He was stationed in Marseille, France, but he is now a resident at The Lennwood Nursing & Rehabilitation Facility in Oak Cliff (Dallas, Texas). He was part of a special group whose jobs were to locate bombs, and land mines and disarm them. In addition were also bombs that were disguised as matchboxes and bombs wired to windowsills, very cleverly disguised bombs. He did not have the special equipment available today. When he found some he used his bare hands, “carefully” and “prayed”, he said. He said, “That’s all you can really do”. “Bouncing Bettys” was the nickname given to these German land mines. When detonated they jumped “3ft into the air”. They also repaired airports damaged by these same German bombs. I must say he was a multi-talented soldier. Pvt. Johnson left France on a ship headed to join Forces for the Invasion of Japan. A 2nd Marine Division Ship (Mt. Arbon he believes) that was sent to take them to dry land was bombed just as they left the ship and boarded the DUKW boats for land. All Marines aboard were killed, he saw their hats on the land when they docked. He was blessed to complete his tour and return home to his family after 2 1/2 years of service. I met Mr. Johnson when I became the Volunteer Long Term-Care Ombudsman at The Lennwood. What an honor it has been to know him personally, to hear the stories of his bravery, protecting us, our country in such an extraordinary way. God bless Pvt. Sam Johnson!!!
My exceptional veteran is my husband, retired Colonel Jonathan House. During his 30-year Army career, he commanded a platoon, company, battalion, brigade, depot, and base. He fought for our country in two wars, during which he was awarded four Bronze Star medals. He also served our country overseas for 13 years, sometimes without his family. Jonathan does not dwell on his military service, but he is very proud that he helped protect our precious freedom.
My mother, Mary Ochs, is a resident of Atria assisted living and listens to you every day. She is the wife of Leonard Ochs, who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the army, and a son, Kurt Ochs, who also served in the army.
My grandfather was Pearl Arthur Lockett. He served in the Korean war, where he lost hearing in his left ear from a nearby bomb explosion. He had a good sense of humor and made his impairment a point of laughter for his grandkids. His love for serving others led to starting his ministry at The Apostolic Faith Church here in Ft. Worth. He built it himself, and his wife Doris helped by painting and decorating it. Together, they fed, clothed, and provided monetary assistance to his fellow African-American community in the area. He became a father-figure to them. Everywhere he went, he showed integrity, open-mindedness, and seemed compelled to help people. One day I asked him, how did he always hold such strong morals? He said his grandmother told him as a boy, ‘Do right, and right will follow you,’ and he always believed in that. I’m grateful he did.
“Mesmerizing, enchanting, full of life love & liberty” only begins to describe my spouse EvE who served her mid-oughts with the US Navy. She showed me the truest definitions of love itself through endless selflessness, after self-care first. During her service she began international travel, then introduced and led me to over ten countries in the decade since. EvE engineered her own custom thirty-seven key electronic vibraphone she plays in our experimental-industrial band called ManifestiV. EvE also directed our music video for “Just Wait” depicting a dire example of global warming consequences in 2D through the perspective of a deer and her fawn. EvE also has culinary genius for abstract yet incredibly healthy Asian food, my favorite. Above all though, she shows epic talent as a visual artist with paintings in our native Vallejo California, murals here in Dallas, storyboards for independent film, and Pet Portraits through her PortraitsByEvE.com website. I please hope you consider these words for airing & either way sincerely & incredibly appreciate this extra step of recognition you as a station took to recognize those who went the extra step to stand for our country overseas.
Lamar Bordelon is special to all who know him; as an individual, his presence is calm, kind, intellectual and joyful to be amongst. A very sincere and humble soul who proudly served our country in the United States Marine Corps during WWII, now serving the community as a church choir member, and recently celebrated a birthday on November 4th! Thank you for your love of country and fellow man, Lamar!
My friend, Jeremy Mahugh is a remarkable veteran who deserves special recognition. He faithfully served our country for ten years as an elite Navy SEAL. His numerous roles included sniper and pilot for the SEAL Team’s submersible SDV (SEAL Delivery Vehicle). He completed more then 17 deployments both as a Navy SEAL and as an operative for an Intelligence agency. However, he did not stop serving our country when he left the military. Upon his return from service overseas, he moved to Dallas and co-founded DeliverFund a nonprofit that is dedicated to combatting human trafficking. Every day, Jeremy works tirelessly to provide intelligence, training, and tools to law enforcement that enable them to efficiently identify human trafficking victims and their traffickers. As a result of his efforts, thousands of victims have been rescued and their traffickers have been arrested. Therefore, Jeremy Mahugh deserves recognition for his unwavering ability to combat this horrendous problem.
The veteran I would like to recognize in my life is my husband, Jeff. He recently completed his graduate studies and received an MBA from SMU Cox School of Business. He was not able to attend his graduation and we weren’t able to throw the graduation party we had planned due to COVID-19 so I was hoping you could help congratulate him on this major accomplishment! We are so proud of him and the dedication he showed to complete his degree all while we also welcome our first child, a daughter named Livia, in June 2020. He is the best daddy and husband, we will celebrate our 12 wedding anniversary next month, we love him so much and want him to know how proud we are of all he has done!
I would like to add my cousin’s name to the list. His name is Charles Wayne Stratton. He was MIA since 1971. He and his wife both graduated from Samuel High School. His remains were located and he was pronounced dead in 2009. His wife wrote this book, Losing Chuck, Finding Sallie: The Thirty-Six year Odyssey of a Wife Whose Husband was MIA in Vietnam.