Monday, April 23, 2012
Final Salute In Photos & Video To Sgt. Tanner Higgins At Funeral Parade Through Winnsboro
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Aggie Muster Speaker is Ron Domingue at Wood-Rains County A&M Club April 21, 2012
I'm honored that my sister, Sarah Medlin '93, asked me to speak to you today, but as soon as I accepted, I immediately began to stress over how I could weave an interesting, upbeat speech while not losing sight of the Aggie Muster theme of remembering lost or fallen Aggies. The first thing that came to mind is that I still remember my "Campusology" from my Fish Year in 1986:
Aggie Muster: On April 21 each year, on the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, Aggies gather together, wherever they are, to commemorate fellow Aggies who have died during the year. The tradition was begun 21 April 1903.
So, let me begin with saying that I lost a couple of Aggie friends in the last year. The first is an Aggie friend who had been with me for over 20 years. This Aggie Buddy was at my wedding, my graduation & commissioning, the birth of my children and earning my wings of gold. Indeed, this Aggie Buddy accompanied me on my deployments to Africa and Turkey, and was even with me when I flew around the world in a C-130 aircraft. This special friend was with me when I lived abroad in Japan and again in Indonesia. In fact, my Aggie Buddy had been to 34 of those 36 countries you have read about in my bio. Of course, the Aggie Buddy I'm talking about is my Aggie Ring. Sadly, my Aggie Ring was lost forever to the Pentagon sewer system earlier this year. I stand here feeling naked, adrift even, without my Aggie Buddy of over 20 years.
How did he "go" you might ask? Well, I work in the Pentagon, and let's just say thanks to you all for for your tax dollars to support automatic-flush toilets in the Pentagon. But somehow my ring slipped off my finger, and faster than you can say "tsunami," my ring was swished away, and presumably now rests at the bottom of the Potomac River.
In all seriousness, I did lose a real-life Aggie Buddy this year: Jay Kregal, class of '89, lost his battle with kidney cancer and passed away on August 11 last year. But when I think of Jay, I don't dwell on his difficult struggle or on his passing. Jay was an Eagle Scout and Varsity Basketball player in high school. At A&M he was the Outstanding Freshman of the Year, a member of the Ross Volunteers, Deputy Corp Commander, and was elected to the Chi Epsilon National Honor Society. He was tall, lanky and always had a somewhat goofy smile. And that's how I remember him. I see him smiling. Which is exactly how I think he would want us to remember him. I will answer "here" for Jay tonight, and I will not linger on the sadness of his passing. I will focus on his strong spirit, his upright morality and his fantastic character. I will remember him as a leader, an Aggie and a friend. I will think of the good he had in life and the good that he shared. That is the point of Aggie Muster. We remember those fallen and mourn their loss, but we answer "here" to ensure their Spirits live on. In doing so, we ensure the Aggie Spirit and the memories of Aggieland endure.
So, in an effort to come up with something brilliant to say tonight, I decided not to talk about the "Life & Times of Lt.Col. Domingue," or "How Texas A&M helped me solve world hunger." No, instead, I want to offer a few random memories of my time as an undergrad at Texas A&M. Memories that include other Aggies (living and deceased) whom I recall fondly on this Muster evening. To help me do this, I put on some music that I listened to while I was a student at A&M and was reminded of how different music brings back different memories over the years. In no particular order, here are a few memories that came flooding back when I set my MP3 player on "Random Aggie Days":
Anytime I'd get homesick and missed my family in Louisiana, I'd listen to Cajun Music. That started pretty much on day one of Freshman Orientation Week, when they shaved my head. I stood in front of the mirror for a very long time, trying not to cry and thinking that I looked like a convict. My only consolation was that my roommate, James Kirby, looked even more like a criminal than I did. James was the Best Man at my wedding and is still on active duty in the Navy. Now, flash-forward to flight school when I received my flight suit and helmet. Again, I stood in front of the mirror, but with my helmet on and switching between clear and dark visors: daytime...nighttime...daytime...nighttime. That reminded me of my best friend Waylan Cain, who was Head Yell Leader our senior year. He and I were commissioned together and our careers have paralleled for 20 years. He went off to fly F-18s while I went to fly C-130s. He's married and has 4 children. Waylan is in San Diego and will retire from the Marine Corps this summer.
Running With The Devil: Van Halen
We used to hear it every day during Freshman Orientation Week, and any running event I did with Company D-1 or the D-1 Devils. We also used to listen to it while getting the unit psyched-up prior to March-Ins before home football games. And it reminded me of Mike Hahn, who was D-1 Class of '88 and was a total spaz: skinny, red-headed with freckles, excitable and fun! Mike passed away of Leukemia while in Jet Flight School as a Navy Ensign. But what I remember most about Mike was his amazing balance. We used to do "carrier quals" in the dorm hallways. We'd spread a layer of soapy water down the hall and see how far the Fish could slide on their bare bellies before being stopped at the end by the other Fish holding up elastic belts. Mike Hahn could slide further down the hall while standing on his bare feet than the Fish could on their stomachs. That's how I remember Mike.
My sophomore year, some of our classmates from another unit lost their stereo privileges, and we had to keep their speakers in our room. Darn the luck! So we connected their speakers to our already loud stereo., I remember my roommate, James, playing the stereo so loud that the helicopter sounded like it was outside our window. People were coming out of the dorm looking for the real thing. That was loud! We were bummed out when our buddies got their privileges back...
My senior year in Dorm 12 on the quad, with a fourth floor corner room that had a direct view of Aggie Bonfire when it was still build on Duncan Field. My roommate, Mike Potter, and I threw one helluva party that night! I remember Deanne Bullard and her roommates joined us. We started there, went to bonfire & then back to the room with more friends for some more partying. Mike is living outside of Houston, is married with 2 kids and doing well. Deanne is married and we just reconnected on FaceBook after 20 years!
I was introduced to that the summer I went to Officer Candidate School (OCS). Alan James was my roommate that summer. The music proved helpful, as I did a fair bit of praying in the midst of the "fun" that was OCS! Alan married his college sweetheart, Leigh, and is now a Lt.Col. in the Marine Corps Reserves and works for Stryker instruments in Round Rock.
Whenever I needed to escape or I as missing my fiancee, Beth, in Louisiana, I'd listen to music like this. I distinctly remember sitting at my desk my senior year, listening to this song and looking out the window at the bonfire stack, thinking how much I wanted to be on the stack, and not studying! Mike Potter was a good roommate and he helped me make the right decision. We went to work on bonfire stack.
Summer of 1990 when I was a part-time DJ for Texas A&M radio station KANM 99.9 FM Cable: "I'm Ronnie-D, you're tuned to...and this is the alternative for Bryan/College Station." Melissa Allison and I were supposed to be DJs together, but she couldn't handle the midnight to 3 am gig, so I did it alone. Probably for the better, because at that time, the station was only broadcast on cable, so I'm 100% sure no one was listening to me. But I still had fun. Melissa married a fellow C-130 pilot and lives somewhere in Fort Worth: We share Christmas cards each year.
The summer of 1990, when I got married and my wife and I heard that song every 30 minutes as we drove to Florida on our honeymoon. The song reminds me of the wedding, of course, but since I was still a student at A&M, it brings back fond memories of my D-1 buddies. All of them, plus a few others came to the wedding in New Orleans..and to the Bachelor Party the night before. And that's all I'll say about that.
I played recreational soccer at Texas A&M on at last two teams every semester I was there. One night we had an indoor soccer game at the same time that R.E.M. was performing in G. Rollie White Coliseum. The back wall of the Coliseum served as the back ball of the stage, as well as the side wall of our indoor soccer court. For the entire game, we could hear R.E.M. perfectly in the court. We lost that game, but man , it rocked! Come to think of it, that doesn't remind me of anyone in particular, but man it rocked!
And I could go on and on, but in almost every case, the memory (happy, sad, fun, mad, etc.) included a Buddy or a friend from Texas A&M. The bond we Aggies share is special. It runs deep, and unless you're part of that family, you'll probably never be able to appreciate it.
OK, full disclosure: When I first went to A&M, it was because I wanted to take advantage of my ROTC scholarship and go to a great school. But I was adamant that I wasn't going to be "brainwashed" into the Whole Aggie Thing. That determination lasted about two weeks. Week one was Fish Camp, where I learned yells and songs and met other timid Aggie Freshmen, all the while running around going "Aaaaaaaaayyyyyy" and thinking: Yeah, I'm really not getting into this! Week two was Freshman Orientation Week with the Corps of Cadets. They shaved my head, taught me to march and spit-shine shoes. After that, my life was not my own and any dream of remaining aloof from the Aggie Way was pretty much shot to hell. You either convert or you go home: I converted. And thank God I did! My Aggie Spirit runs deep and I treasure the friendships that have grown out of my time at Aggieland.
Last summer, one of my Fish Buddies, Patrick Tansey, retired after 20 years in the Marine Corps. A few buddies and I went to the retirement ceremony and ensuing party at his house. Being Buddies, we of course had to play a practical joke. This particular prank involved a non-running Karman Ghia sports car, Christmas lights (in July), a children's parade and pretty much everyone who ever knew Patrick. Suffice it to say: My Buddy received a letter of complaint from his Homeowner's Association, and was given 30 days to remove the car. Among my Buddies, we call that a "Win!" Whoop!
My son, Oran, who was just weeks away from entering college at SCAD, helped us with the setup and execution of our "Pullout," as we called it in the Corps of Cadets. He was absolutely in awe of our friendship and our love for one another. After that night, Oran commented: Man, Dad, I hope I have friends in college like you did. I'm pretty sure he was sincere and not speaking sarcastically about the twisted but fun way in which we show that friendship. So, I answered sincerely: I hope you do, and I meant that. What I did not say is that in order to have friends like mine, you've got to be an Aggie. For me, Muster is the strongest reminder of the friends and Aggie Buddies I have, whether they are still with us or already moved on to greener pastures. It's a fellowship that's not found in any other organization, except perhaps the USMC.
Meanwhile, I'm always eager to make new Aggie friends, either here tonight, at future Aggie events, in the workplace, or...when the postman comes to visit next month with my replacement Aggie Ring.
On that issue, I look forward to sharing a whole new group of life experiences with my new Aggie Buddy. If nothing else, I've already got my first new memory, and that's how much it costs to buy a new Aggie Ring: Try $1,600.00 for a replacement Aggie Ring! So, for you Aggie Moms out there who can't believe how much it costs you to replace your daughter's lost Smart Phone? Yeah, you've got nothin' on me! I just hope my new Aggie Buddy appreciates what I had to do to get a new ring, because that's a lot of beer at the Dixie Chicken!!!
Thank you very much for inviting me here tonight, and Gig 'Em Aggies!
Live Poets Society Salute To Cowboy Culture in Winnsboro, Texas
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Wilderness Survival Class taught in community by Renae Williams
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In case you are interested in future classes by Renae, below is the way she described the one just concluded:
Message from Renae
Have you ever wanted to feel at home in the woods, know how to live with only what the Earth provides, or just connect to your Native Roots? Or perhaps you are an avid outdoors person just wanting to learn more about how to connect deeper to nature or help loved ones feel safer during a natural disaster.
If so then this is the class for you. Learn the basics that all survival is based on. This is a daylong class that will get you hands on building shelters, making a fire by friction, gathering and finding and purifying water.
This class will teach both adults and children. Children must be over five years old and less than 18 years must be accompanied by a guardian. There will be a ten person limit to the class. Cost per adult is $80. Per child under 14 years is $50. Special rates are available for parents who wish their children to join them in class. Bring a lunch and be ready for a day packed with fun and learning!
The class will be 8am to 4 pm in the Winnsboro area.
Private lessons can be arranged.
Call for more details: 903-951-3131 and ask for Renae
Renae is a regular attendee and frequent program presenter at Native American Fellowship meetings held each third Thursday at 7 pm in the Tinney Chapel UMC Family Life Center.
Friday, April 06, 2012
Circle Of Life Celebrated For Quilting Circle Member Polly Cole
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Circle Of Life Celebrated For Polly Cole,
A Star Member Of Her Quilting Circle
One by one they stepped forward, like pieces of a living quilt, to stitch and embroider the long and productive life of this beloved woman of many talents, one of which happened to be expert seamstress and renowned maker of quilts for special occasions: weddings, births, marriages, friendships.
Her name was Myrtle Pauline Griggs Cole, but commonly known as just Polly, Miss Polly, Aunt Polly, Wife, Mother, Grandmother or, most affectionately to many, MeMaw.
The most lengthy and most eloquent of the family tributes remembered the door of her house as always being wide open with coffee, tea, conversation and, of course, love, waiting inside. Besides all that, she was called a "true renaissance woman," perhaps in the truest sense of the meaning of that word: "rebirth or revival."
And, MeMaw's home was always, said this eulogizer, where her family gathered, as opposed, presumably, to some specific structure in some geographic area, whether or not cartographers had placed it on anyone's map. She was a beloved family matriarch who relished her God-given role.
He remembered her as a fantastic cook, famous for steaming hot sourdough rolls, and a gardener of flowers, shrubs, vegetables, always on the lookout for a root of this or a sprig of that to enhance her collection of nature's bounty.
Perhaps most poignantly, he recalled his MeMaw as an expert seamstress, who had made nightgowns for himself, his wife and perhaps many others in the family, but whose most regal claim to renown was as a quilter who designed and stitched quilts for just about any occasion one can suggest, all of which are now priceless heirlooms.
Touching the hearts of the entire congregation, this eulogist segued into the quilt as a metaphor of life itself. Despite its low-tech heritage, the quilt is at once a symbol of unique beauty, made often from leftover scraps, just as is the quilt of life itself. We put our lives together in much the same fashion, adding a root of this or a sprig of that, piecing it together as best we can with whatever scraps or treasures that life hands us as we make the journey. In that way, each of us becomes a part of life's quilt for our family and our friends, as they provide material for our own quilt of life.
"Threads of love" was the most memorable phrase used by this eulogizer in recalling his fondest memories of Polly Cole, his precious MeMaw, whose quilt of life he proudly called the masterpiece of one who truly understood the art of the quilting circle and that of life itself, one which she used to salvage every scrap of love that came her way and return it, multiplied many times over.
He concluded by saying that when others look at the quilt of his own life, that they can be glad of the life that his MeMaw helped him to create.
One grandchild said that he always knew his MeMaw loved him and that he even sometimes allowed himself to think that he was her favorite, but he understood that all the other grandchildren likely felt the same way.
Others called Polly Cole a strong, loving, spirited, selfless woman who treated others so nice that all thought they were special, obviously became all were special to her.
Hymns included Come Thou Fount and Sweet Beulah Land. Burial was at Pleasant Grove Cemetery, west of Winnsboro.
The funeral was officiated by Bro. Garry Gage, who read from Matthew 25:31-46, the story of the Son of Man separating one from another as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. It's also the story of Jesus declaring that inasmuch as you have done these things to the least of these, my brethren, you have also done them for me: A reminder of Jesus' command that all of us love one another.
It was a fitting Scriptural conclusion for a loving woman who always had a smile for everyone who crossed her path of life.