At Sagora Senior Living, we’re honored to know and to celebrate the lives of our residents. Throughout the week of Veterans Day, we featured some of our residents who are veterans in recognition of Veterans Day on Thursday, November 11, 2021, across our social media platforms. See below for a recap of their stories – we’re so excited to share them with you!
For our first feature, meet Russell B. at The Heritage Tomball in Tomball, Texas. He is originally from Falfurrias in south Texas and served in the United States Army from 1961 – 1965. He received the PRCT Badge, Combat Infantry Badge, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for his time in the armed forces.
At Ellery Arbor Memory Care in Colleyville, Texas, we have Ed N. He’s originally from Kentucky, grew up in Michigan and moved to Texas in 1967. He served in the United States Air Force from 1955 – 1959. Once while he was in the military, Ed broke the speed of sound while diving straight down in a F-84 fighter jet! After serving in the military, he went on to become a commercial pilot.
Meet Al V., at Bellarose Senior Living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s originally from a small town in north central North Dakota. On his 18th birthday, he met with the local military recruiting officer while registering for the draft. 20 days later, he was off to basic training and was trained as a military medic shortly after.
Al’s initial assignment was with the 10th Air Rescue squadron at Elmendorf Air Force base in Alaska. “This unit had no place for a trainee with zero experience,” said Al.
After some time in limbo, he was offered the opportunity to become an aircraft mechanic with only self-study and on-job training. He eventually qualified as both a senior airframe and a reciprocating engine mechanic. This was the start of his lifelong career in aviation!
Al graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He continued on to work with Cessna as a Design Engineer and spent 32 years with American Airlines in maintenance and engineering – the last 13 years of his career with American Airlines were spent as the Managing Director of Aircraft Engineering.
Meet Gene, one of our residents at Adante Senior Living in San Antonio, Texas. To say that it’s an honor to know him, is an understatement. His list of accomplishments includes high school valedictorian, the first African American to start a college football game as quarterback, had a brief career with the Cleveland Browns, and he served in the United States Army and Army Air Corps.
In December 1944, Gene was drafted into the Army. He was initially assigned as an artillery cannoneer with the 16th Separate Training Battalion in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He later transferred to the Tuskegee Airmen pilot training program in Tuskegee, Alabama. Gene graduated from the program in May 1946. With the war over, he was discharged, and he returned to the University of Michigan to continue his education.
Gene was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1987 and also had a successful career in dentistry. In 1950, he earned a degree in pharmacy, and in 1958, he earned a further degree in dentistry. After receiving the second degree, Gene returned to the military, serving in Vietnam, as well as South Dakota, Massachusetts, Texas, Hawaii, Virginia, Illinois, and at the United States Air Force Academy before his retirement in 1985.
He received multiple awards including Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Congressional Gold Medal.
And it doesn’t stop there. Gene was also the Valedictorian of his high school class. His strong academics and his athletic ability earned him a scholarship at University of Michigan. He played football for the university while maintaining a “B” average while earning a degree in Pharmacy.
In 1947, Gene became the first African American to start a game as quarterback. He scored the final touchdown in the 1948 Rose Bowl. He was inducted into the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 1987 and had a brief career on the Cleveland Browns.
Are you ready for a love story for the ages? Meet Mildred and Maury from Ellery Arbor Memory Care in Colleyville, Texas. Both were captains serving in the United States Air Force.
During the Korean War, Maury flew for the Air Force through the Cold War with the 323rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron in clandestine refueling missions over the Eastern Bloc. Mildred was stationed at Lockbourne Air Force base in Columbus, Ohio assigned to serve as an RN in both the surgical and maternity units.
So, how did this couple meet? Maury was seriously injured in a plane crash and was taken to Lockbourne for treatment. Upon awakening from surgery for a broken back, he looked up and saw “the most beautiful redhead he had ever seen” at his bedside. He vowed, then and there, that he was going to marry her. Mildred was not an easy catch!
However, on January 7, 1953, they both went AWOL in a blizzard to meet at the chapel to become husband and wife. This started an unintentional family tradition as all four of their children were subsequently born during blizzards!
They enjoyed 66 years of marriage until Maury passed away in 2019. Mildred, at age 94, continues to enjoy her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and her life at Ellery Arbor Memory Care. She plans to retire as “Honorary Nurse” in the near future.
We are so blessed to know these wonderful residents and are happy to share their lives with you. We thank them for their service and look forward to sharing more resident life stories with you in the coming weeks!