San Angelo's Military Pride on Display at Hunt for Heroes Opening Ceremony
SAN ANGELO, TX-- San Angelo's pride in the military was on display Thursday as residents converged on the Bill Aylor, Sr., Memorial River Stage to welcome the 18 wounded veterans participating in this year's Hunt for Heroes event.
The event used to be a parade. However, San Angelo Support for Veterans opted to hold the event at the River Stage. Everyone involved loved the move.
Above: San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter delivers a speech at the Hunt for Heroes opening ceremony. (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
"This venue here is more effective than the parade, because we could get closer together," said Sonny Cleere, event emcee and founder of San Angelo Support for Veterans. "As you could see, the audience thoroughly enjoyed it."
The crowd of patriots were treated to speeches from San Angelo ISD Superintendent Dr. Carl Dethloff, Rick Mantooth, Mayor Brenda Gunter and Goodfellow Air Force Base Personnel.
Central High School's award-winning Mighty Bobcat band also played a concert for those in attendance. Above: The Central High School Air Force JROTC presents the colors at the Hunt for Heroes opening ceremony. (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
"They are incredible," Cleere said. "They are one of the best bands I have ever heard. They do so much goodwill for our city. They're wonderful. I can't say enough good things about them."
The speech from a Goodfellow AFB squadron commander centered around five words: thank you and welcome home.
The last two are almost true for Army Sgt. (ret.) Joseph Lewis. His wife is currently in the Air Force on active duty and stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico.
Above: The 18 wounded veterans listen to a speech at the Hunt for Heroes opening ceremony. (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
Sgt. Lewis, a California native, is currently planning where to put roots down once his wife joins him in retirement from active duty. San Angelo is one of the candidates.
"I've kind of been looking for a forever home. San Angelo has been on the map," Sgt. Lewis said. "This is my first time visiting and seeing there's so much support makes it high up on that list"
However, Lewis only learned about the opportunity "four or five months" ago. A friend of his was looking to keep him occupied while his wife was deployed.
"He was like, 'You know, I think I've got something for you while your wife's gone," Sgt. Lewis recalled. "I guess he made some phone calls. I got an email and filled out the application."
Sgt. Lewis had given up on the hunt, not thinking he was going to get a response. On the same day he thought that, his phone rang.
"I got a phone call and it said I had been selected," Sgt. Lewis said.
This weekend, the 18 hunters will get to go on hunts on area ranches. The all-expenses-paid outing is put on by Chris Gill with Lone Star Warriors in connection with San Angelo Support for Veterans.