You meet the nicest people from Wyoming in Texas

The other day I was grocery shopping at Sprouts when I happened across a guy wearing a T-shirt with a Wyoming bucking bronco. I’ve been in Texas for more than 30 years, and I never pass a chance to say hello to someone from Wyoming.
Sure enough, this guy was from Evanston, and though I can’t remember his name, I knew his dad and grandparents. It was fun to catch up with Evanston and Wyoming in general. Six and a half million people live in the Metroplex, and it is always great to run into someone from Wyoming.
Which leads me to church where about 15 years ago I met a lady (Millie Moores) who was born and raised in Cowley, and Kevin Watts and his family. That is hitting close to home and a welcome gift.
Several years, maybe decades ago, I was honored to write a few articles for a special supplement for this newspaper. It was truly an honor to visit with local veterans and recap their military life. However, I missed one soldier that many years ago.
Perhaps my greatest find while living in Texas has been meeting and getting to know former Lovell son, Darryl Stevens. Darryl, now 91 years old, reminds me of all that is good about the people in the Big Horn Basin, especially his love of country and patriotism.
Serving two tours of duty in Vietnam, Daryll was a Huey attack helicopter pilot in the 281st Assault Helicopter Company. He also was named commander of the unit from January 1970 to July of that same year. His aircraft of choice was the Army Huey helicopter, where he battled in some of the hottest and most dangerous Vietnam locations. He is a true American hero who used his life’s skills to save lives. Darryl remains a part of the Army Airborne Calvary personified.
Having seen the worst of humankind during an armed conflict, I’ve witnessed that he is the kindest and most gentle person I’ve met here in Texas. His war stories are gripping, if you can get him to open up, yet the outcome is always the same. His mission has always been to save lives. A retired Lieutenant Colonel, Darryl was an honest-to-goodness role model for other chopper pilots and soldiers under his command. Any loss of personnel was a personal tragedy for Darryl, and a burden he carries even today.
He had to practice what he preached because, when the call came to fly into the face of danger, Darryl didn’t hesitate to get the Huey blades rotating to rescue troops pinned down by the enemy. He flew into the face of danger numerous times, and that was no easy task as bullets pierced the shell of the helicopter and careened off the bubble of the aircraft.
War is not a pleasant thing, and it seems unfortunate that some of the nicest people in the world are those who lay it all on the line to demand freedom.

Ralph C. Jensen is a former Air Force public affairs specialist and is currently the publisher of Security Today and Campus Security Today magazines.