ON VETERANS DAY BACK IN 2008 TWO TEXOMANS SET OUT ON A MISSION TO FIND A WAY TO PROVIDE SOME RECOGNITION AND TRIBUTE TO THE STILL SURVIVING HEROES OF WORLD WAR TWO.
MEMBERS OF THE GREATEST GENERATION...THEY ARE THE ONES WHO STRUGGGLED THROUGH THE GREAT DEPRESSION, THEN ANSWERED THEIR NATION'S CALL TO WAR AND AFTER WINNING THAT BATTLE, WENT ON TO CREATE THE WORLD'S GREATEST ECONOMY.
FOR GETTING THEIR STORIES OUT TO TEXOMA AND HONORING THE SACRIFICES OF THESE HEROES, STEVE BRILEY AND HAROLD WHITE ARE THIS MONTH'S SPIRIT OF TEXOMA AWARD WINNERS.
Steve Briley says, "We talked to a gentleman who had served for 9 months in a German POW camp."
THAT GENTLEMAN WAS CHUCK HARTNEY WHO JOINED THE SERVICE IN 1942...AND ON HIS 32-ND MISSION WAS SHOT DOWN OVER HAMBURG GERMANY.
Briley continues, "Then of course L.D. Cox who swam with the sharks for five days after the Indianapolis was torpedoed."
WWII Veterans L.D. Cox says, "It's something you will never forget, it's something that makes you appreciate the flag."
WHICH HAPPENED JUST DAYS AFTER COX'S SHIP DELIVERED THE FIRST ATOMIC BOMB IN 1945.
WWII Veteran Robert Gragg adds, "I spent a couple of years over there, but I don't deserve any special recognition."
ROBERT GRAGG AND HIS FELLOW SOLDIERS ARRIVED ON THE BEACHES OF NORMANDY JUST A FEW DAYS AFTER D-DAY.
Briley says, "He fought for 11 days in a little town with basically one company of Americans that had no support."
GRAHAM WILSON WAS SERVING IN BELGIUM WHEN HE WAS SHOT IN THE LEG.
Harold White says, "An individual who had lost his leg in the Battle of the Bulge and who had never been recognized for his service to this country."
AND IT WAS THE SAME FOR MANY VETERANS STEVE BRILEY AND HAROLD WHITE WOULD GO ON TO MEET...IN ALL THEY HONORED 28 MEN WHO SERVED OUR COUNTRY DURING WORLD WAR TWO...A GROUP OF VERY HUMBLE HEROES.
Briley mentions, "From their perspective they didn't do anything special because everybody else they lived with went through the same type of things."
THEY REMEMBER BOMBS FALLING FROM THE SKY AND FRIENDS WHO NEVER MADE IT BACK TO AMERICAN SOIL.
White says, "They knew what had happened to their fellow soldiers and many of them were touched by the ultimate sacrifice like many of the others in their units that they went to battle with paid the ultimate price and so they all felt like survival was something in and of itself and they were very private."
BRILEY AND WHITE KNEW THESE VETERANS HAD VALUABLE LESSONS TO TEACH...FAR BEYOND THE PAGES OF A HISTORY BOOK...
AS PART OF THESE TRIBUTES LOCAL STUDENTS PRESENTED THE COLORS... READ LETTERS OF THANKS AND GATHERED AROUND REAL HEROES TO HEAR THEIR STORIES.
White says, "By allowing them to get some information it allowed them to connect to what perhaps their grand parents or great grandparents had done and the uniqueness of that bond you could see through the information that these kids had now was something you could truly enjoy seeing."
Briley adds, "We need to educate younger people to see real life heroes and they did have the opportunity with this to see and meet those guys."
FOLKS SERVING AT SHEPPARD ALSO CAME TO MEET THESE VETERANS...ONE GENERATION OF SERVICEMEN HONORING ANOTHER.
White says, "We owe so much to these people who gave us so much with their sacrifice."
AND IT'S CERTAINLY A START BY SAYING THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE...A RECOGNITION THESE MEMBERS OF THE GREATEST GENERATION EARNED MANY DECADES AGO.
FOR DOING JUST THAT BRILEY AND WHITE ARE PROUDLY SHOWING THEIR SPIRIT OF TEXOMA.
BRILEY AND WHITE WANTED TO THANK ALL OF THOSE WHO MADE THESE PRESENTATIONS POSSIBLE...INCLUDING ALL OF THOSE WHO HELPED IN THEIR RESEARCH EFFORTS...AS WELL AS JOEL JIMINEZ AND THE DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS, THE RED DOOR, SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, THE WICHITA FALLS I-S-D AND NOTRE DAME SCHOOLS.
OWENS AND BRUMLEY FUNERAL HOMES CONGRATULATE BRILEY AND WHITE FOR THESE SPECIAL TRIBUTES.
AND IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO TRULY DESERVES THIS AWARD...PLEASE NOMINATE THEM NOW.