RAVES: Many thanks to Sarah Miller and the Tyler Morning Telegraph for the pictures and story about the many patriots in our East Texas area who give so much of their time, energy and resources in support of our East Texas Military Men and Women. I have only a few things to add to the story.
First, as the founder and coordinator of Welcome Home Soldiers and a member of the Patriot Guard Riders and the Adopt-A-Box volunteers, I want everyone to understand that without the caring, dedicated, and patriotic volunteers who are a part of each of these endeavors, there would not be any of the outstanding support for the military men and women of East Texas.
Second, I hope that everyone understands that while Welcome Home Soldiers and Adopt-A-Box are grassroots, local organizations, the Patriot Guard Riders is a national organization which leads us all with their examples of dedication and commitment to showing honor and respect for all of our military, past and present, and who travel many miles and spend many long, hot and cold hours doing just that.
Third, Welcome Home Soldiers and Adopt-A-Box would not have grown into the successful organizations they are without the support and generosity of the Tyler and Longview business communities and individuals who have been so gracious and generous in their support of what we are doing for the military. We are also indebted to the Rose Capital Chapter of Military Officers Association of America for their assistance, participation and support.
I would also like to add that Welcome Home Soldiers is available to welcome any military personnel who come into our Tyler/Longview area for any reason and from anywhere in the world. We depend on family contacts to let us know when any military man or woman is coming home to our area, and I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-279-7301 or 903-707-2201 to receive information about the upcoming arrival of a military person or for anyone who would like to volunteer to help us welcome our East Texas military heroes. To contact Adopt-A-Box, Polly Morman can be reached at 903-539-1072, and either one of us can give you contact information for the Patriot Guard Riders.
RAVES: I want to sincerely thank Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle and Lieutenant David Long for their support on Independence Day and the days leading up to our Independence Day Open Carry Celebration. Chief Swindle commissioned Lieutenant Long to reach out to us prior to our event, expressing their full support of our legal activity and helped us ensure a safe and legal celebration. On the day of the march Lieutenant Long and his officers acted like true gentlemen and were fine examples of public servants in law enforcement.
The entire department should be commended for their fine work and honoring their oath of office. While I am sure there was a lot of public pressure to prevent or alter our march, Chief Swindle through Lieutenant Long and the rest of the Tyler Police Department did as they should and protected the God-given and constitutionally protected rights of the minority. In a nation with laws that are rapidly moving away from the God-granted rights of the individual and towards the frivolous fears and desires of the majority, this was refreshing and welcomed reaction from T.P.D. Our nation and our state would be a better place if more public servants recognized and honored their oaths to uphold the Constitution and protect the individual, even in the face of public pressure from the majority, as Chief Swindle, Lieutenant Long and all of T.P.D. have done. We are fortunate to have such fine public servants serving us.
Independence Day Open Carry March Organizer
ROSES: The Knollwood neighborhood Fourth of July parade makes a nice newspaper story every year. Thanks for repeated coverage.
J. L. Ray
RANT: I continue to be surprised at how many people refer to Alzheimer’s as “Al-timers,” “Old-timers” or “Ole-timers.” I was truly appalled recently when a local news reporter on TV did a story on Alzheimer’s and repeatedly referred to it as “Al-timers.” Don’t know how that got past the editing room. In any event, anyone whose lives have been sadly touched by Alzheimer’s disease knows the correct spelling and pronunciation. It would be great if everyone could make note of this for future reference and stop the incorrect and/or casual reference to Alzheimer’s Disease.
ROSES: I commend the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum of Tyler and the Commemorative Air Force for preserving the legacy of military aviation in America by staging the “Thunder Over Cedar Creek Air Show.” The staging area for this event was Tyler’s Pounds Regional Airport where over 30 airplanes, including B-17 and B-25 bombers, were on display to the public. Some planes offered rides.
My wife Marellyn and I spent most of Saturday at Pounds viewing the display of the planes. Although I have flown many times, I am always awestruck watching planes take off and land. Thoughts kept coming to mind regarding the sacrifice made by young men and women who served in the military protecting our freedom from those who would take it away.
One such person was my brother, Will A. Hadden Jr., who flew 50 combat missions over Europe, was shot down once, but he and his crew survived. When he died here in Tyler in 2008, I spoke at his memorial service. I am afraid that present and future generations will too soon forget the courage shown and sacrifices made by those who gave so much.
Editor’s note: The following are the words Judge Roby Hadden spoke at the memorial service for his brother, Will A. Hadden Jr. on Dec. 5, 2008:
Will Hadden, Jr., was my big brother. We grew up in Fort Stockton, in a family of eight children. I was number eight. Will was 11 years older than I. We all knew him then as “Junior.” Our dad was a country lawyer representing mostly farmers and ranchers. Our mother was a Christian lady, a Bible teacher and the prayer warrior in the family. Most of my memories of Will are through our experiences during World War II when I was 12 to 15 years of age.
Will's and my relationship was that of a typical “big brother” and “little brother,” that is, he was my role model and I followed his every move. He, on the other hand hardly knew I existed, and when on some rare occasion I would be noticed, his comments were usually something like “oh, that’s just my little brother.” But that didn’t bother me for I knew we would always be brothers.
Will was always focused on whatever he was doing and was tenacious in seeing his projects to completion. In high school Will made top grades, received several scholastic awards, was drum major of the band, and was on the tennis team. He graduated from The University of Texas in Austin and then joined the United States Army Air Corps. Will had eye problems and knew he might have trouble passing the Army physical, so he took off his thick glasses, practiced some eye exercises, and passed the physical.
I vividly remember that Sunday afternoon Dec. 7, 1941, when mother, dad, and I were sitting in the living room and the announcement came over the radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and that President Roosevelt was asking Congress for a Declaration of War. What a shock that was to my mother and dad for, in addition to Will being in flight training in California, we know that other family members would probably have to go to war. As Tom Brokaw said in his book, “The Greatest Generation,” these events affected just about every family in the United States.
But what a thrill it was to me when I would hear mother and dad discuss how Will had won his wings, became a B-17 bomber pilot, and was being assigned overseas to fight those bad guys. Will became committed to fly 25 combat missions, but when he finished those 25, he volunteered to fly 25 more. You can imagine how proud this little kid was of his “big brother.” What commitment and bravery it took for a B-17 crew member to crawl up in that cockpit one more time knowing that in each combat mission a certain percentage of men and planes would not return.
An indelible picture in my mind was seeing mother standing over the kitchen sink doing the dishes, listening to a little radio on the windowsill. When the news would come on, she would stop what she was doing, turn up the volume, and we would listen. Often the announcer would report that 200 plus American bombers had just flown over Germany and bombed factories, railroads, etc, and that we lost eight planes, or 10, or whatever. When the news was over and I looked at mother, I would see tears coming down her cheeks, and knew that she was praying for Will, for somehow she knew he was on that raid. I believe our mother's prayers had a lot to do with Will coming home safely.
I'll never forget the day we received a telegram that Will was coming home and we were to meet him at the train station in McCamey. On the way back to Fort Stockton I don’t think I took my eyes off of him in his uniform wearing all his medals. The little town of Fort Stockton had a welcoming parade and celebration that I will never forget.
Will went on to become a test pilot and flew just about every airplane the Army had at that time. I remember one day word got around that Will was going to do a “fly over” of our little town, and indeed that day he flew a B-25 bomber real low over Fort Stockton and it literally shook up the whole town. Will then went on to become a pilot for TWA Airlines, then UT law school, and then had a long and successful law practice in West Texas.
When Will retired a few years ago and moved to Tyler, sometimes I would drive him around to do some of his shopping. He often would have me stop at the health food store. Like I said, Will was so focused and tenacious and would not give up an idea very easily. So, I would say to him “Will, here you are nearly 90 years old, don’t eat that old health food anymore. Go eat some chicken fried steak, French fries, and milk shake.” He wouldn’t respond but just go on and buy the health food.
Yes, I guess one could say that my big brother, Will Hadden, Jr., was my Hero.