Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

November 28, 2012

Veterans honored at Republican headquarters

The Johnson County Republican Women honored four veterans during their Tuesday luncheon held at Johnson County Republican Headquarters in Cleburne.

 Marine George Marti, Joe Stephens of the U.S. Army, Richard Gaurkee of the U.S. Army and Lt. Thomas Bradshaw of the U.S. Army and Army Reserve Corps spoke during the luncheon.

Marti served during World War II. Stephens served 46 years, participating in three wars. Gaurkee served as a medical helicopter pilot during Vietnam. Bradshaw served in Afghanistan and is now company commander of the 111th FSC Engineer Battalion out of Stephenville.

Bradshaw, a Joshua native, joked that he calls his soldiers his knuckleheads, but also expressed how proud of them he is.

Afghanistan is “a mess that’s not going to get any better,” Bradshaw said.

Nonetheless, he commended all the military personnel over there who remain gung ho and continue to perform their best under frustrating circumstances.

Corruption among Afghans that Americans are charged with assisting and training further compounds the challenge, he said.

“But, we love to serve, and want to continue to serve,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw’s wife, AshliDawn Turner sang the “Star Spangled Banner” to open the luncheon.

Turner recently released “American,” a CD of patriotic songs, partial proceeds of which benefits soldiers and their families.

“My mission is to support the troops and their families through my music,” Turner said. “And to remind people that, for them, the war is not over once they come home and they still need our love and support.”

Gaurkee addressed the age old question of why veterans rarely discuss their time in the military.

“No one goes to war that isn’t touched by it,” Gaurkee said. “Talking about it veteran to veteran is OK, because they understand and know what it means, and you can get some solace out of it. Which is something most civilians don’t understand. So it’s not that they’re blowing you off. They just need your love and understanding.”

It is paramount, Gaurkee said, that the U.S. maintain a strong and mobile military.

“Because we want to be able to protect ourselves,” Gaurkee said. “And we don’t want war in our back yards.”

Stephens kept his remarks short and sweet.

“I’m proud to have served and have never been ashamed of the uniform of our country, although I’ve been ashamed of some of the people who have worn that uniform,” Stephens said. “Thank you God for letting me serve all those years.”

Marti told attendees that he is just a kid of 92 years old. Marti discussed his career in broadcasting and electronics including working on the first radar systems.

Marti said his early days in the Marines, before being sent to the South Pacific were pretty swell.

“A lot of excitement those days in [Washington D.C.],” Marti said. “A lot of beautiful secretaries.”

Of the training classes in the Naval Research Lab, 13 of the 15 Marines enrolled passed, including Marti who ranked first in the class, while only 30 of the 100 sailors enrolled passed, he said.

“In the Pacific, yes, I got shot at,” Marti said. “But they never did hit me, thank goodness.”

Officials took a minute to honor three additional veterans in the audience. Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Ronny McBroom, Joel Victory and Susan Harbour all served in the U.S. Air Force. 

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