By Jordan Likens
After the conclusion of World War II, the American people faced political and military tension with many other countries. This tension contributed to what would be the Vietnam War, which took place in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The Vietnam War occurred in the midst of the Cold War-era and was considered to be a proxy war, a type of war that consisted of indirect conflict between two nations. The birth of the Vietnam War occurred on Nov. 1, 1955 and did not cease until April 30, 1975. Over the course of this 20-year war period, approximately 648,500 Americans were drafted into the armed forces to serve.
In the fall of 1970, a young Tom McCrory of Rio Grande City, TX began his enrollment at Sam Houston State University. Shortly after beginning his college education, McCrory received a draft notice to join the American effort in the Vietnam War. Upon receiving the draft notice, McCrory was forced to make a decision that he knew would have a major impact on his future. This decision was to join the Air Force, instead of being drafted into the war.
“I felt like my chances of being secure in my well-being would be in the Air Force instead of the Army or Marines. I’m not going to lie about it. That is just how I felt about it,” McCrory said.
Upon entry into the Air Force, McCrory found himself stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico at a special weapons center. He then served in the 307th bomb wing as a Sergeant E4, where he was responsible for aircraft maintenance analysis.
After serving in New Mexico, McCrory found himself in U-Tapao, Thailand. His departure from the United States was a tough one.
“When I shipped out to Thailand, I had a four-month-old son and had been married for three years, so it was pretty rough,” McCrory said.
Upon arriving in Thailand and beginning his work in arc light, a b52 bomb analysis, it was evident to McCrory that he was far from home.
“Thailand is a tropical country and it was kind of a shock—a cultural shock—to be thrown into a position like that. The Thailand people were excellent people though. They were all very friendly,” McCrory said.
After completing his work overseas, McCrory was discharged and began attending school again. In 1975, he returned to Sam Houston State University on the G.I. Bill and after two years transferred to Texas A&M University to complete his education. McCrory graduated in December 1977.
A decade later, McCrory became a founding member of an organization called Veterans of Foreign Wars. This organization had been established on the basis of unionizing veterans and assisting other veterans or members through comradery. McCrory is still a member of this organization.
In April 2007, McCrory began his work with the Trinity County Veteran’s Wall of Honor Society and has since become its president. This organization strives to assist honorably discharged veterans in a time of need through various acts of kindness.
“The way we differ from other organizations is that we can act almost instantaneously. If the veteran needs a hot water heater, air conditioner, or wheelchair ramp, we can provide it almost instantaneously. We also provide a means of transportation or fuel cards for the veterans to go to the V.A. hospital,” McCrory said.
Despite being busy with two organizations, McCrory and his colleagues are aiming to achieve yet another goal for the Trinity County Veteran’s Wall of Honor Society.
“We would like to recruit some younger members for our organization. It is open to everyone—you do not have to be a veteran. I would like to see that happen,” McCrory said.
As Veteran’s Day approaches, we are all reminded of the sacrifice and patriotism that our veterans have given and shown over the course of our country’s history. Because of veterans like McCrory, Americans may rest easy and embrace the freedom that our veterans have fought so hard for.
“Most veterans will tell you that it wasn’t worth a nickel, but they would not take a million dollars for the experience. It stays with you for the rest of your life,” McCrory said.
McCrory asks that everyone thank a veteran this Veteran’s Day.