Lubbock, Texas Tech honors its veterans

Lubbock and the Texas Tech community recognized its military veterans through a variety of ceremonies and tributes this Veterans Day Friday and the days leading up to it.

Last Saturday, Lubbock Los Hermanos Familia held its annual Veterans Day Parade, drawing hundreds to downtown Lubbock and honoring attorney Danny Koch as parade marshal. American Legion Post 575 in Lubbock hosted a Veterans Day breakfast on Friday. Texas Tech marked Veterans Day with a dedication ceremony for two new additions to Memorial Circle to honor veterans and military personnel who have attended or have an affiliation with the university.

Billy Morrison leads in the parade with his dog,

Hill & Ioppolo smiles at the soldiers

Also on Friday, a retired Navy veteran from Lubbock was surprised with a life-changing gift.

Fernando Castillo, 50, was announced as the recipient of the 6th annual Smiles For Soldiers program at Hill & Ioppolo Oral & Dental Implant Surgery in Lubbock.

Smiles For Soldiers gives a local hero in need, who suffers from very poor oral health, the opportunity to receive a whole new set of permanent teeth. The procedure, which usually costs around $50,000, will be completely free.

Castillo said he always had bad teeth and was bullied as a child.

“As an adult, I’m always embarrassed by my smile and I’m afraid to smile at students at my school,” he said. “I never had confidence in my smile.”

Rogelio Rodriguez’s family shared their photo with Avalanche-Journal in tribute to the veteran who served in the armed forces during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969.

Rogelio Rodriguez

Letter honoring OC Heard

This photo provided shows OC Heard during his time in the military

OC Heard’s family from Lubbock shared this letter recognizing the veteran for his service:

On Veterans Day, I would like to recognize my brother for his outstanding service.

OC Heard was the quarterback for the Frenship Tigers in 1939 and 1940. He graduated from Frenship High School in May 1941, at the age of 16. After enrolling at Texas Tech, he answered the call to serve his country. In December 1943, OC completed his primary flight training at Thunderbird Field in Arizona.

The following April, OC was just 19 when he received his silver pilot’s wings at Pecos Army Air Field. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. His commanding officer recognized OC as the youngest pilot the commanding officer had ever seen in flight training and was very proud of OC’s determination and skill.

OC was then sent overseas for pilot duty. OC gave up his youth to serve his country in times of need.

We should recognize OC Heard, Jr. as a great American. – Perry Heard, Lubbock

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