BIG COUNTRY, Texas (BigCountryHomepage.com) – This Veterans Day, we celebrate our Big Country veterans by sharing their true stories.
A quick history:
Originally known as Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson designated November 11 as the first Armistice Day in 1919. In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the day a federal holiday. Finally, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name of the day to Veterans Day.
The true stories of our Big Country Veterans
Roy ‘Hoss’ Allen is a World War Two veteran who survived a B-24 engine failure over enemy territory and spent almost a year as a prisoner of war in various German camps. Just a couple of days before Veterans Day, he was honored by fellow residents of the Wesley Court Senior Living Community.
The same day at Wylie West Elementary School, United States Marine Veteran and former Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls was recognized for his service. Bolls served in the Marines for four years, during which he was stationed in Vietnam for a period of time. He worked as a Communications Center Operator before being accepted into service as a U.S. Marine Embassy Security Guard. Later, he worked as an anchor at KRBC and was eventually elected to three terms as the Taylor County Judge.
Michael Arbuckle, from Fort Worth, holds his grandfather, Private First Class Charlie McCright, in high regard. McCright served as a machine gunner in the European theater during World War II and passed away in the year 2000. Although, when he was buried next to his wife in Elmwood Memorial Park, his funeral service did not include any military honors. Arbuckle said no one alive today knows why that happened, given that McCright was honorably discharged upon leaving the Army. On the quest to honor his grandfather, Arbuckle also discovered his grandfather’s headstone in the garage.
Now, The office of Representative Jodey Arrington has reached out and offered to help find all military records for PFC McCright, and Elmwood Memorial Park has offered to cover all costs of encasing the Bronze headstone in granite and getting it installed.
For the past three years, Big Country Military Combat Veterans have been given an opportunity thanks to the Abilene Vet Center and Abilene Bow Hunter’s Association. The annual ‘Foam is our Friend’ archery match tests their archery skills while also helping them cope with post-traumatic stress.
Alicia Stepp, an Air Force veteran, has ventured into a new career path in the male-dominated field of welding. Historically, the welding classroom at TSTC has been filled with predominantly male students, but now this trend is slowly changing. Whether it was during her time in the military or in her welding classroom, Stepp has gone against the grain in her career choices.
Clickener was named the KTAB 2023 Remarkable Woman of the Year. She was nominated for this title by her husband, who recognized her selflessness and dedication in helping Afghan refugees relocate to new homes after the 2021 fall of Afghanistan. As an Army nurse, Clickener’s primary role was to provide aid to deployed troops, but she never ignored her heart for caring. She would also extend her help to Afghan civilians and prisoners of war. Her reason for doing so was simple – she felt an obligation to care for those who had protected her.
Two retired veterans from Dyess Air Force Base have continued their service even after retiring. Pete Leija and Glen Pugh, who served in the US Air Force for decades, have launched a new venture called Lone Star Tactical Solutions. Since 2022, they have employed 35 security officers with diverse training and experience to provide innovative security services and offer classes for individuals and small groups.
Last weekend, hundreds of people from the Big Country gathered in downtown Abilene to celebrate and honor local veterans. During the event, residents expressed their gratitude towards military personnel, while Veterans such as Richard Olguin took the opportunity to thank them in return for the unwavering support the Big Country has for service men and women.