166th Aviation Brigade, Division West

By Spc. Carl Havlik, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West

TEMPLE, Texas – Soldiers and families of the 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West, brought holiday cheer to local Texas veterans on New Year’s Eve at the William R. Courtney Veterans Home here.

The home is named after World War II veteran, 1st Lt. William R. Courtney, who passed away in 1998 and was influential in getting a veterans home built in Temple, Texas.

The William R. Courtney Texas State Veterans Home is a long-term care facility for Texas veterans and their families that opened in 2000. It has 160 residents, including 32 Alzheimer’s veterans.

There was no better way to bring in the new year for the GreyWing Soldiers than to spend it visiting veterans from America’s past wars and conflicts.

From Vietnam to the Korean War, and even as far back as WWII, veterans at the home account for almost four decades of military service. This service is a feat that Sgt. 1st Class Frank Reyes, 166th Aviation Brigade administrative assistant, finds a very important lesson to show his children who he brought to the home.

“They see their parents going off to war and coming back,” said Reyes. “They need to understand who makes us free. It was very good for them to see veterans from past wars and talk with them.”

Soldiers and their families spent time making homemade cookies and other baked goods to share with the veterans and also gave away various Army goodies.

“It was good for them to have something homemade,” said Reyes. “Having homemade baked goods is something special for the veterans. Baking is personal and comes from the heart. It takes time and effort to bake cookies and cakes.

“Around this time of year, it is easy to get caught up in store bought baked goods and bring them to parties and family functions. When someone is given food that you baked, they are forever connected to you,” Reyes added.

Hats, bags, key chains, water bottles and other Army branded gear were given to the veterans in appreciation for their service.

The veterans were not the only ones with a lasting impression of the visit. Reyes’ nephew came along and was able to talk to and spend time with some of the veterans.

“He now wants to come back and work here,” said Reyes.