Honor veterans this Fourth of July
However you decide to spend Independence Day, don’t forget the many men and women who have served in the United States military.
I recently met Patricia Hewitt of Jourdanton, who served this country from 1981-2007. A native of the small town of Cornwall, New York, Hewitt attended the New York Military Academy on a scholarship. She served in the ROTC there.
Since she came from a family in which so many served in the military, Hewitt knew at an early age that she wanted to follow in their footsteps.
“We were taught to be good citizens. We were patriotic. I was raised in a family where service to others was important. I always thought I’d be a Navy Nurse like my mom,” said Hewitt.
Hewitt was on activity duty in the Army in 1983, right before Thanksgiving. After training in Fort Devens, Massachusetts, she was stationed in Germany for 3 1/2 years. Hewitt loved the beautiful cities in Germany and its history. Since her grandmother’s family was originally from the Black Forest in Germany, Hewitt found a familiarity with its food and language.
When she returned to Fort Devens, Hewitt taught at the Army Intelligence School, sharing her knowledge with new students. She taught skills such as map reading, making reports and vehicle maintenance. Hewitt also taught in the Six Day War, teaching others about briefings and map boards, as well as equipment and vehicles. She taught from 1987 to July of 1992.
Then she was stationed in Korea for a year. There she served as Mission Supervisor at Base Camp Humphreys in South Korea, south of Seoul.
“She taught me to be polite and to try to learn the language,” said Hewitt.
Hewitt enjoyed Korean culture, the food (especially the barbecue) and looking out at the many rice fields.
Many of the Korean women, said Hewitt, had grown up in war. One particular woman, Miss Lee, took care of Hewitt’s room and starched her uniforms.
“It was like she had another family,” said Hewitt.
Summer in Korea was extremely muggy, said Hewitt and winter was cold and wet.
After Korea, Hewitt was sent to McDill U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, where she worked in intelligence.
Hewitt was then stationed in the United Kingdom at Royal Air Force Base Molesworth. She took part in a dedication at the 303rd Bomb Group Museum in which Captain Irl Baldwin was also in attendance. When he arrived at the event, said Hewitt, he was in poor health and appeared very weak. However, in just a few hours, his demeanor had changed. After his photo was presented to the museum, Baldwin appeared healthier and sat up proudly.
Hewitt was transferred to Ft. Hood in August of 1998. She arrived in Texas, greeted by 108 degree heat, but said she adjusted quickly to the weather.
Hewitt was then sent to Bosnia, where she served in the 312th MI Batallion, 1st Cavalry Division. This was during the violence and reports of genocide among the different ethnic groups there. Hewitt was there when the Russians were preparing to leave. She said it was strange seeing her buddies on the news.
In 1999, Hewitt returned to Ft. Hood. She was stationed there when the horrible events of 9-11 took place.
“I was five months pregnant and I had just taken a shower. As I was putting on my boots,” said Hewitt, “I saw the news. They were talking to a person that said a plane hit one of the towers and just then, the other one was hit. We all knew war was coming.”
The next summer, Hewitt moved to San Antonio and worked at the Joint Operations Info Center. She retired in June of 2007.
Hewitt and husband Steve have been married for 28 years. He also serves in the military. They have been blessed with four children. Their first son, Michael, an Army Medic, has served in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan, while son Robert served in the Marines.
Their younger son Edward and daughter Anna both attend Jourdanton ISD.
When she retired, the Hewitts were looking for a place to live. She was leaning toward the San Antonio area and finally settled on Jourdanton.
“It has that same small town feel that I grew up in,” said Hewitt. “It has small town values. It’s okay to pray and say the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Hewitt is involved in the Boy Scouts and also serves as Senior Vice Commander for the VFW, Post 4853. She encourages others to take part in such activities like Boy Scouts that teach responsibility, good character and good citizenship.
“It is important to give back,” said Hewitt.
She also advises youth to enter such contests as the Voice of Democracy, sponsored by the VFW. These programs award thousands of dollars to the winners.
Also, Hewitt invites all veterans, regardless of what branch they served in, to look to the VFW to help with VA services and claims.
For parents whose children want to serve in the military, Hewitt’s advice is to let them try it out. The military offers an array of benefits and it teaches you to rely on yourself. The military also offers experiences like no other. The military can influence you for the good, it stresses humanitarian needs and it broadens your horizons.
Even those not in combat, said Hewitt, are just as important. They are not any less than the combat vet, said Hewitt.
“We wouldn’t have what we have without the veterans who have done so much,” said Hewitt. “When you are in the military, you are joining a club that only other vets can understand.”