One of the most rewarding experience for us as we travel with our RV in North America is MEETING PEOPLE.
I have mentioned already in my earlier posts meetings that were planed and meetings that were not planned ,but they all enriched our lives adding acquaintance and friends as we go along, with some the connection ends after a while and with some it continues through e-mails till we meet again in the future even if takes years till it happens.
This meeting with Lonnie and Hazel happened close to Labour Day 2014 in Oklahoma ,it all started in November 2013 after I posted my 2014 summer RV route and got a mail from Lonnie saying” I see that you are passing close to my place,I would like to learn more about your country and your culture,come and stay with us for a while”,this was a start for a long e-mail correspondence that finally led to our meeting.
From the e-mails I learned that Lonnie is a Comanche what made me even more interested to meet with him and learn about the First Nation people first hand.
Lonnie and Hazel are a great interesting couple ,Lonnie is the most decorated Comanche in the US military,lived many years in Europe and is very interested in the history and culture of our country so obviously we were not short of “stories” ,each one about his own faith and back ground.
MOST DECORATED COMANCHE
United States Air Force Master Sergeant (Retired) Lonnie (Torralba) Henderson has earned the distinction of being the most decorated Comanche veteran, having earned 65
Decorations, Medals, Badges. Citations and Campaign Ribbons.
He served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard from 1956-1959, and retired from the Air Force after serving from 1959-1986. Sgt Henderson was on a 105MM gun crew with B Battery, 158th Field Artillery Battalion, 45th Infantry Division, based in Anadarko while serving in the National Guard.
In the Air Force he served in the intelligence field as a ground and airborne Cryptographic Linguist. Sgt Henderson is qualified in Russian, Vietnamese and German. He saw duty in Vietnam, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Japan and Panama and flew reconnaissance missions in the along the West German/East German/Czechoslovakian borders, in the Baltic, Barents, White, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Ionian and Aegean Seas, the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea and over Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Gulf of Mexico, against Grenada and various areas of Central America. His only stateside assignment was at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
He has over 1000 combat flight hours and over 5000 hours of combat and combat support hours in C-130 and RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft. He has also logged a few mission on the AWACS aircraft.
His awards are the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (19), Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal (7), National Defense Service Medal, Combat Readiness Medal (4), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Grenada), Vietnam Service medal with three Campaign Stars, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Device, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (9) with the V for Valor Device, Air Force Long Tour Ribbon (6), NCO Professional Education Graduate Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Rifle Ribbon, Cold War Service Medal, Basic, Senior and Chief Air crewmember Badges and the Combat Crew Badge, the Comanche Nation Honourable Service Medallion, the Comanche Nation Combat Service Medallion.
Sgt Henderson retired a second time from the Caddo-Kiowa Technology Center in Fort Cobb. He is from the Grey Mountain family and lives with his British-born wife, Hazel, in Washita, west of Anadarko.
His awards are:
1 Meritorious Service Medal
19 Air Medal
1 Air Force Commendation Medal
1 Army Good Conduct Medal
7 Air Force Good Conduct Medal
1 National Defense Service Medal
4 Combat Readiness Medal
1 Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Grenada)
4 Vietnam Service medal with three Campaign Stars
1 Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
1 Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Device
9 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with the V for Valor Device (the V is awarded for combat operations)
6 Air Force Long Tour Ribbon
1 NCO Professional Education Graduate Ribbon
1 Small Arms Expert Rifle Ribbon
1 Basic Air crewmember Badge
1 Senior Air crewmember Badge
1 Chief Air crewmember Badge
1 Combat Crew Badge.
1 Cold War Service Medal
1 Comanche Nation Honourable Service Medallion
1 Comanche Nation Combat Service Medallion
WHAT A GUY…..
Lonnie took us to few Indian Museums that completed some of what he told us the other day,it was very interesting to hear and learn about the lives of different Indian tribes along the years, not only about the relation between them and the white man but also between different tribes.
Wouldn't it be nice if all people from different faith and cultures would learn and treat each other in respect rather than try to change the one that is different from him…. ?????
At noon and after a light meal we took off to the Wichita Mountains Wild Life Refuge –wild ,rugged and weathered –it is a symbol of the old west standing at the threshold of modern times.For centuries ,this remarkable land was the province of a few nomadic hunters and food gatherers. Today the refuge serves everyone by conserving part of America’s national wildlife heritage.
We saw only few animals such as Buffalo,Prairie Dogs and Long Horns
BUT I could not “complain” about the views especially from the highest Oklahoma peak ,mount Scott.
Shula prepared an Israeli typical light dinner which everyone enjoyed , we had a drink to celebrate the new friendship and wished it will never end….