Few citizens of Del Rio are unaware of the intense military history living among us, and surely no one counted as a history buff lacks interest in that legacy. But few may realize that all our military traditions do not begin and end with the modern U.S. Air Force, specifically Laughlin Air Force Base.
A well-deserved visit to the Laughlin Heritage Foundation Museum downtown illustrates the spectacular, if chilling Cuban Missile Crisis, a period of history that seems unrelated to the training mission of today.
Moreover, our city is and always has been peopled by veterans of every war in which America has been involved, and from all branches of service. I'm afraid all the World War I veterans have left us, but there are still heroes of WWII, Korea, the Cold War, Foreign Service security, national command leadership, Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan in our quiet neighborhoods.
The universal constant discovered as I interviewed 20 of these men or their widows is this: After we established a foundation of trust through honest conversation, they were quietly happy that someone seemed interested in their contribution to the nation's security. No one had come around to ask before, in most cases. But their participation, their role in honorable service to the nation - the Honor Role - is indisputable and inspiring.
If you know of a veteran in your neighborhood, get acquainted and talk to them. It is rewarding for all involved, and should be an addition to The Honor Role describing their service.
Onesimo Adame was interviewed during February 2008.
Bobby Barrera was interviewed during December 2008.
Howard Baughman was interviewed during August 2008.
Jim Blocklinger was interviewed during August 2007.
Dan Burr was interviewed during November 2007.
Alfredo Casarez was interviewed during July 2007.
Chuck Chandler was interviewed during April 2007.
Al Cummings was interviewed during November 2008.
Pat Dugan was interviewed during December 2007.
Jim Fagan was interviewed during June 2007.
Ed Hanson was interviewed during May 2008.
Pete Lewis was interviewed during October 2007.
Gerald Prather was interviewed during January 2008.
Rolando Menchaca was interviewed during September 2007.
Vic Milam was interviewed during October 2006.
James Riddle was interviewed during January 2009.
Ben Ruston was interviewed during March 2008.
Chester Rutigliano was interviewed during May 2007.
Paul Smith was interviewed during February 2009.
Jerry Weber was interviewed during April 2008.
(Some of these veterans have since deceased.)