When we came across this description of an American Soldier, we thought it appropriate to place here as a tribute to honor our classmates and family members who have served our country in the past as members of the various branches of the Armed Forces and also to honor all the people serving in those same capacities today.  In the future, with some revisions, this should be redone to include both men and women.



    The average age of the Infantryman is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either. He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and 155mm Howitzers. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and see either one effectively if he must. He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march. He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low. He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime. He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed. He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful. Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years. He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding. Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.


The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall Experience, which is a traveling three quarters size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., made it's only Texas appearance of 2005 in July in Denison on the practice field directly behind Denison High School. Being there and seeing the impressive two hundred and forty foot long and eight foot high structure containing more than 58,000 names of those lost in conflict plus the many local veterans there as well sharing their stories, it makes you realize the enormity of the sacrifices those brave men and women made for our country.

There are many websites that contain information about the actual Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C., two very good ones are and A good website to find out more about the replica wall and when it might be in your area is


Billy Frank Watson, our class's only Vietnam casualty, lost his life in service to our country in Quang Tri, South Vietnam on August 21, 1967 eight days after his 22nd birthday.

The photograph above was taken at the actual Vietnam Wall located in Washington D.C. by our classmate Gail Hipple Bates, a resident of nearby West Friendship, Maryland. For anyone visiting the actual wall or the traveling wall exhibit, Billy's name can be found on panel 25 E line 26.



  Veteran Bearcats 
A special area has been set up at our Sherman Ex Student's Museum honoring all Sherman students who served in our nation's military, please let us know if you served and would like to be included in the display. If you need more information be sure and let us know, you will be contacted. After you visit the Sherman Ex-Student's Museum another inspiring place you will want to visit is the Perrin Air Force Base Museum, their dedicated volunteers have put together many great displays of memorabilia in which we can all take great pride. Their museum does not just contain items from the Air Force and Perrin, all branches of our nation's military are represented. There is a link to the Perrin Museum on this website, volunteers are always needed to keep this valuable county treasure operating. If you have time to spare and a genuine willingness to serve your community, you have two of the requirements needed. It's not a requirement but it seems like former members of our nation's military service who could serve as volunteers would be especially helpful.

This page is dedicated to the '63 Bearcats who served in any branch of our armed forces. Our country owes you a debt of gratitude. Please contact us if your name is not listed and it will be added.


Ronnie Adams served from 1967-1969 in the United States Naval Reserve and was stationed at Alameda, California aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger CVA 61. He had two tours of Vietnam and attained the rank of SFM3.

Jimmy Apel served in the U.S. Army from September 1968 to April 1970. He served with the 9th Division 4/47th Mobile Riverine Force and the 6/31st Recon from May 1969 to April 1970 in the Delta and Plain of Jars region of South Vietnam. Attained the rank of E-5, Sergeant.

Willies Ballou, Master Sergeant (Ret), USAF, Basic training at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, assigned Altus AFB, OK. Dec 70 - Dec 72 Hof Air Station and Bitburg AFB Germany. Jan 73 - Apr 76 Ellsworth AFB SD. Apr 76 - Apr 78 HQ Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB NE. Apr 78 - Jan 84 HQ USAF Personnel Center, Randolph AFB, San Antonio. Feb 84 - Feb 86 Anderson AFB, Guam. Mar 86 - Apr 89 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph AFB, TX. Apr 89 - June 93 HQ USAF Personnel Center, Randolph AFB, TX with duty as Congressional Inquires Liaison for the Air Force. Wife, Cathye, SHS Class of 1965, retired USAF Master Sergeant.

Mary Casteel Bauer, Air Force, 1963 - 1967, Medic, Stationed at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL.

Samuel M. Beckett, E5, 1966 - 76, Basic Fort Polk, LA, AIT Ft. Belvoir, VA, Stationed at Ft. Bliss, Hood and served in Viet Nam with Combat Engineers. (Sam passed away in 2012)
Ralph E. Beckner, E4, U.S. Army 1967 - 1969. OCT Fort Benning, GA; declined commissioning. E4, 4th Infantry, deployed to Vietnam, Bien Hoi in the Dong Nai Province. Handled various assignments in Battalion Operations. Discharged Fort Sam Houston 1969. (Ralph passed away in 1978)
Pam Bilger, U.S. Army 1963 - 1965, My duty stations were Ft. Knox, KY and Harbour Barracks outside of Orleans France. For the next 8 years I was an Army wife stationed at Ft. Benning, GA, Okinawa and Ft. Hood, TX.
Jerry W. Blair, E-5, U.S. Army 1966 - 1968, Basic Fort Polk, La. AIT Fort Sill, OK.6th Battalion, 14th Artillery.
Bob Christian, E-5, U.S. Army, I was in the 15th combat engineering battalion of the 9th infantry division in Dong Tam and spent most of my time at a place called Fire Support Base Moore.
Dan Coffey, E-5, U.S. Naval Security Group from Aug 66 thru Jul 73.The group is part of the Navy, and I served tours in Japan and the Philippines. (Dan passed away in 2004)
After high school graduation, Mike Connolly enlisted in the United States Marines Corps. After boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina and ITR at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he had a 6 month deployment to FMF 6th Fleet Mediterranean. He then went to Embassy School and to 1st Marine Security Battalion before being assigned to the US Embassy in Dublin, Ireland for 9 months. Mike was then sent to reconnaissance schools and training and was then assigned to 3rd Recon Battalion, 5th Marines MAC V SOG for 2 years 8 months. Upon returning to the United States, he was sent to Drill Instructors school at USMC Base Quantico, VA. Upon completion, he was assigned as a Drill Instructor at USMCRD Parris Island, SC for the remainder of his enlistment. Upon fulfilling his military duty, Mike received an honorable discharge with the rank of Gunnery Sgt. (Mike passed away in 2011)
George M. Cox, SSGT, USAF, 1968 - 1972, Graduated from Austin College 1968, lettered three years in football. Declined a commission in the Army and Marines but accepted to OFC in the Air Force but poor eye sight would not allow me to enter pilot training so enlisted in USAF 1968. Assigned to Special Service Sq. at Charleston AFB, SC. Asst. Golf Course Manager 1968 - 1970. Golf Professional and Charleston AFB Golf Course Manager 1970 - 1972. Discharged at Charleston, SC in 1972.
COL (Ret) Stewart (Stew) Mills Crane is a class member, like Barbara Scholl and Steve Van Horn, who actually finished high school in Japan. Commissioned 2LT, active Army’70-‘72. Ft Gordon, Georgia,  Ft Ben Harrison, Indiana, Campbell Barracks, Heidelberg, Germany. Army Reserve (Reno), ’73-’83. Recalled to active duty ’84-’01 – St Louis, Missouri, Sacramento Army Depot, California, Pentagon - Washington DC, Heidelberg, Germany, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, Pentagon (again) - two different assignments, Ft Meade, Maryland – retirement back to Reno. One son is now in Army and is a UAV Pilot at Ft Hood, Texas, Army Strong!
Stephen E. Donohue, Spec 5, US Army January 1965 - January 1969, Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, Assigned to Army Security Agency Russian Language School at Defense Language Institute West Coast - Monterey, CA April 1965 - March 1966, Radio Intercept School, Vint Hill Farms Station - Warrenton, VA, TUSLOG Det 4 - Sinop, Turkey, April 1966 - April 1967, Two Rock Ranch Petaluma, CA May 1967 - April 1968, National Security Agency - Ft. Meade, MD April 1968 - January 1969
Dick Ellis, COL (Ret), U. S. Air Force, Graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1968. Then went to pilot training, was stationed at Dyess AFB for a while and then went to Vietnam. I then went back to the Air Force Academy and spent 18 year teaching and coaching. I retired from the Air Force after 22 years of service. I spent 18 of those years working at the Air Force Academy.
Ben (Butch) Ewing, E-4, U.S. Army Signal Corps, East Com, Korea, Discharged May 66.
Joe Fitzsimmons, SSGT. E-5, U.S. Air Force (April 1964-Dec 1967) Basic Trng. at Lackland Air Force Base, Special Weapons Training School Lowry AFB. Denver, CO May 1964, Assigned to Carswell AFB-Ft. Worth, TX B-52 D/F models-Dec 1964, U-Tapao AFB Thailand & Andersen AFB Guam Operation Arclight-1965, Survival School and POW School Fairchild AFB, Wash--2nd Tour Republic of Viet Nam at Phan Rhang as AC-47 gunship gunner for 6 months, Vientiane, Laos for 6 months as Laotian Air Force Weapons advisor (July 1966) Operation RanchHand, Warner Robins AFB, GA 1967 as Weapons Team NCO. Discharged December 1967.
Manuel Freire served three years in the United States Navy first serving aboard the USS Bennington (CVA-20) in San Diego then aboard the USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25) which was the fourth Naval vessel to have the honor of bearing the name of Bainbridge. The ship was commissioned in October of 1962 and was first deployed in 1963 and made a rendezvous with the nuclear carrier USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) in the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the places Manuel traveled are France, Greece, Italy, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Turkey.
Joe M. Fulenchek, SSGT, USAF 1968 - 1972, Onna Point Okinawa and Kadena AFB Okinawa from 1969 - 1972. US security Service Tech School in San Angelo, TX graduated in 1969.
Ronald Haker served in the United States Army from 1966-1969. He served in El Paso, Texas, Chunchon, Korea, and Schwienfurt, Germany as a radar repairman.
Veneble Hammonds, COL (Ret), USAF, June 62 - June 67 USAF Academy Cadet, Aug 67 - Aug 68 USAF pilot training, Sept - Oct 68 Special Operations and Survival Training, Nov 68 - Nov 69 Special Operations Pilot, AC-47, Vietnam and Thailand. Jan 70 - June 72 C-141 pilot. July 72 - July 73 Air Staff Officer, Pentagon, Washington D.C.. July 73 - July 76 Airlift Operation Officer an T-39 pilot, Hq, Military Airlift Command, Scott AFB, IL. Aug 75 - Jan 81 Presidential Flight Support Officer, Pentagon & White House Military Office, Washington D.C.. Jan 81 - June 81 Student Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA. July 81 - June 86 Pilot & Operations Officer, C-141 and Commander Security Police Squadron, McChord AFB, Tacoma, WA. July 86 - July 87 Deputy Commander & Commander Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. Aug 88 - June 89 Student, Air War College, Montgomery, AL. July 89 - June 92 Deputy Commander & Commander, Travis AFB, CA. July 92 - May 93 Commander Airlift Support Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, AK. Thirty years Military Service, 3600 hours flying time, 165 combat missions, Vietnam and Laos. I have flown to, visited, or lived in all 50 states, much of Europe and a lot of Asia. Enjoyed every one, especially those where I was accompanied by Dianne and our two sons.
Bill Harris, Sergeant, U. S. Marine Corps, I went through boot camp at MCRD San Diego and was sent to Okinawa for deployment to Da Nang, S. Viet Nam in October 1965. I was with the 3rd Marine Division and spent time in Da Nang, Chu Lai, Phu Bai and the DMZ. I left as a Sergeant as promotion was pretty quick in South Viet Nam. Spent the rest of my 4 years at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California.
John (Johnny) Hunt entered the United States Army in 1963 and retired in 1985. He completed two tours of Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade/5th Special Forces Group. He also was stationed three years in Germany and had a short tour in Okinawa prior to Vietnam. John also served in the Texas State Guard for over six years achieving the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. Following his military service, he entered the field of law enforcement where he still is today. For more related information on John, go to the 2/16/10 entry in the "Roses & Thorns" section of this website.
Richard Hopson spent two years serving his country in the United States Navy. He spent his time on the West Coast being stationed in Ferndale, California, San Diego, California, and Seattle, Washington.
Patrick Jenkins, E-5, U. S. Army, Army Security Agency Sept 65 - Sept 69. Basic Training Fort Leonard Wood, MO, AIT - Fort Devens, MA, Duty Station - Kuma Station, Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan, Duty Station - Vint Hill Farms Station, Warrenton, VA.
Bob Kirk, Air Force from 1966 - 1970. Was stationed for a year in Japan. (Bob passed away in 2008)
Lon Kurtzman, US Navy, active duty 1966-1968. FTG-3 stationed on the USS Washoe County, LST 1165, home ported in Yokosuka Japan and assigned to Amphibious Ready Group Viet Nam.
Counting his time in the Reserves Jack Minter spent just over 28 years serving our country as a member of the United States Air Force. He was active duty from January of 1968 to February of 1978 and from March 1978 to March of 1996 he was in the Reserves where he retired as a Lt. Colonel. He held jobs as an Airborne Missile Combat Crew Commander and Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander. He was a full time graduate student in social work on an Air Force Scholarship and graduated with a Masters in Social Work. Positions held as an Air Force Social Worker include Branch Chief, Behavioral Science Branch-Rehabilitation Program, Director, Inpatient Alcohol Treatment Center, and Staff Officer at the Air Force Surgeon General's Office.
Dickie Nelson, Spec.5, US Army, 1968, 1970 in Pleiku, Vietnam, June 1970 - 1971,
Ft. Stewart, Georgia, Honorable Discharge - June 1971.
Bob Norrell, E5, U.S. Army 1969-1971. Basic Training and AIT, El Paso, Fort Bliss. Jump School, Fort Benning, back to El Paso for Automatic Weapons School, then to Vietnam as a member of the 101st Airborne. First two months in country was in the 1st Recon, then was attached to 1st & 44th Dusters and Quad 50's where I spent the rest of my tour on Fire Base Bastogne 20 miles from the DMZ. (Bob passed away in 2009)
Robert E. Oberdorf, SFC, U. S. Army, Seventeen years service in Republic of Korea, South Viet Nam, Germany, Infantry, Armor, Drill Sergeant, and Im Jin Scout.
Gary Park, Spec 5, U. S. Army, Feb.1969, Basic Training, Ft. Bliss, TX, April 1969 AIT (Advanced Individual Training), US Army School of Engineering Ft. Belvoir, VA., July 1969 White House Communications Agency, Washington, D.C., Dec 1971 Honorable Discharge.
Miller Brown Pitts, III served our country as a member of the United States Navy's Shore Patrol before he switched over to the Army where he stayed for the remainder of his military service before receiving an honorable discharge at which time he began a life long career in civilian law enforcement. While serving with the United States Army in Vietnam, he was in the Military Police and also had the extremely dangerous job of being a door gunner on helicopters. (Miller passed away in 2006)
Jerry D. Pritchett, Maj (Ret) US Army, Entered service Sept 67 under OCS College Option program. The Infantry School, Fort Benning, GA, then briefly assigned to the 2nd Battalion 21st Infantry, 24th Infantry Division at Fort Riley, KS. Assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry, First Infantry Division, Republic of Vietnam May 1969. Reassigned to the brigade headquarters as Brigade S-3 (Air). Assigned to Infantry Training Center, Ft. Polk, LA commanded a BCT company. Assigned to Ft. Benning for Infantry Office Advanced Course. Assigned to the Third Armored Division in Germany. Served as Battalion S1 (personnel officer), and S4 (logistics officer) and commanded C Company, 3rd Battalion, 36th Infantry (Mechanized). In 1980 was assigned to the Organizational Effectiveness Training Center at Ft. Ord, CA as an instructor and curricula developer. While at Ft. Ord completed Command and General Staff Officer Course. In 1983 assigned to Germany serving with the 59th Ordnance Brigade in Pirmasens as officer personnel manager, and later the Adjutant General/Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, Personnel where I served until 1986. Retired in Oct 1987.
Tom (Tommy) Richardson Jr., E-5, USMC, 1965 - 1968 Vietnam, Discharged 11-68
Billy Roach, E-5, U. S. Army, 101st Airborne Division
Bobby D. Roach, U. S. Army, 18th Airborne, Ft. Bragg, NC
David Seaver, Captain and Special Agent in the USAF Office of Special Investigations from 1968 to 1972. During the four years I was in the Air Force, I was involved in counterintelligence, criminal, and counterespionage work both in the U.S. and overseas.
Eddie Self served four years in the United States Navy from 1963-1967, upon his discharge he had a rank of E-4. Eddie was stationed on the USS Chicago (CG 11) ship which was the world's most powerful guided missile cruiser, he made three tours of Vietnam and also saw duty in the Phillipines. The USS Chicago (CG 11) has an extensive history, quite a bit of it is covered by a 22 year Navy Veteran on his website Anyone that enjoys reading about the military and military history will find this website very extensive as well as very interesting, it's easy to tell that a lot of time and thought was put into it. (Eddie passed away in 2010)
Ralph Shipman, ATC (Ret), U. S. Navy, I retired in Feb 84 with 21 years service. I started my Naval career with the U. S. Marines with an assignment to the Fleet Marines Training Center, Treasure Island, CA. I served two tours, 6 years, in Iceland, one tour on board the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), and I have circumnavigated the earth and the North Pole many times, and cast my eyes on Antarctica. I can actually say that I have been to Timbuktu, Lands End and returned. My primary training and for the most part, my assignments were Maintenance, Engineering, or R & D related. I was Aircrew Qualified in 13 different aircraft, where I flew as Navigator, Communicator, Radar/Sensor Operator, and Sea/Air Rescue. I was a Master Aircraft Inspector (equivalent to an FAA A/P Licenses) and concluded my career as the Avionics Division Chief and deployed Maintenance Chief for Oceanographic Research and Development Squadron Eight (VXN-8), Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, MD. (Ralph passed away in 2007)
Ronald D. Speed, M/SGT, U. S. Army, 49th Armored Division, Armor Intelligence Specialist. Basic training, Fort Polk, LA. AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) Fort Knox, KY. Trained as Forward Observer (Scout) Reconnaissance. Graduated NCO Academy Fort Hood, TX. War College graduate. 72nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, Military Police, Provost Marshals Command Headquarters, CID (Criminal Investigation Division) following active duty, 17 years Texas National Guard Headquarters Battalion, Dallas, TX, Training NCOIC. Honorable Discharge
Al Stresing, Captain, U.S. Army 1971 - 1973, Battalion Surgeon 2nd/320th Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Division, Camp Eagle Viet Nam, 23rd Evacuation Hospital, Long Bien, Viet Nam, Martin Army Hospital, Fort Benning, GA.
Andy Stuckey, U.S. Air Force, S/Sgt, 1967 - 69 Eilson AFB, Alaska, 1969 - 71 Loring AFB, Maine. (Andy passed away in 2005)
Daryl Talbot, I joined the U. S. Marine Corps in 1964 was stationed in Yuma, AZ and spent some special duty time up and down the California coast and was released from active duty in 1968. I joined the Navy from 1973 to 1977. In the Navy I was stationed aboard the USS Mt. Whitney. Home ported in Norfolk, VA, but I spent time in Rota, Spain, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas. Then in 1981 I got lured into the Air Force Reserves I was in Sherveport, LA and Alhorn, Germany. In 1986 I joined the Army Reserves in the Oklahoma City area. I joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1994 with 22 years service. Retired from the OK Air National Guard in 1994.
David Van Hooser served in the United States Marines, he served as ship security aboard the USS Oriskany during the war in Vietnam. (David passed away in June of 2014)
Billy Frank Watson, Spec 4 (E-4), U. S. Army, Killed In Action 21 August 1967, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, Age 22 years, 8 days.
Ted E. Wilson, entered the US Air Force in Sep 1966 and was discharged in 1970. During that time Ted was in the Military Police either base police or security police (guarding airplanes). He was first stationed at Minot, ND; then Guam; and finally Shreveport, LA.
Earl Wiggins, 1LT, U.S. Army, Field Artillery, combat engineer, My initial duty assignment was in the Republic of Viet Nam. Stationed at Fort Hood, TX, from where I finally separated from the Army.

A special area has been set up at our Sherman Ex Student's Museum honoring all Sherman students who served in our nation's military, please let us know if you served and would like to be included in the display. If you need more information be sure and let us know, you will be contacted. After you visit the Sherman Ex-Student's Museum another inspiring place you will want to visit is the Perrin Air Force Base Museum, their dedicated volunteers have put together many great displays of memorabilia in which we can all take great pride. Their museum does not just contain items from the Air Force and Perrin, all branches of our nation's military are represented. There is a link to the Perrin Museum on this website, volunteers are always needed to keep this valuable county treasure operating. If you have time to spare and a genuine willingness to serve your community, you have two of the requirements needed. It's not a requirement but it seems like former members of our nation's military service who could serve as volunteers would be especially helpful.