Success Stories


Photo of Ted smiling. Ted is a 74-year-old US Air Force veteran.

Ted doesn’t have a car. Sometimes when he can’t get a ride, he walks the few miles to get his groceries.

Ted greeted our staff outside his single-wide trailer. We decided to enjoy the blue sky and warm day on his two-acre property.

At 74-years-old, he served in the armed forces, a United States Air Force veteran, and has received the Breakfast-in-a-Bag food assistance for about three or four years.

A Presidential Unit Citation is conferred on units of the armed forces of the United States for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after December 7, 1941. Part of Strategic Air Command, Ted received the Presidential Unit Citation.

Part of Strategic Air Command, he explained, “I was discharged, but I didn’t get the Medal of Honor, I got the next one, the Presidential Units Citation, and Expert Marksmen.” Ted served stateside and commented, “I didn’t go to Nam. We were detailed here and I was in when Kennedy got assassinated. I was stationed down south and up north at Missile sites.”

Still, the emotions of serving during JFK’s assassination stayed with him. “I got the chills when I heard (about Kennedy getting shot).” Being part of the Strategic Air Command during the Cuban Missile Crisis meant the military required quick actions. Not knowing who the enemy was in the shooting, most military already had targets in place. It didn’t take long to get the “52’s in the air — fully loaded and we were gone — on target. We controlled the skies.”

DEFCON stands for DEFense readiness CONdition (DEFCON). An alert state used by the United States Armed Forces detailing 5 graduated levels of readiness (or states of alert) for the U.S. military. It increases in severity from DEFCON 5 (least severe) to DEFCON 1 (most severe) to match varying military situations. Y1’s are a version of a thermonuclear weapon that was used in B-52 bombers.

Ted continued with, “I remember, I saw the Colonel and had my weapon with me. He asked, ‘why do you have your weapon?’ I said, ‘The Presidents been shot.’ He jumped up and hit it (the DEFCON button). We were in the air — loaded with Y1’s and it’s very destructive.”

As Ted reflected, he knew the devastating consequences those weapons and all the others that had their targets assigned on that day. He added, “Our tankers — C135’s went in the air.” At this point, Ted sighed heavily and drew in a deep breath, and then continued, “That’s hard to talk about. It’s hard to live with.”

Being retired, he enjoys dropping a line in the nearby creeks to entice a willing fish to become his next meal and, of course, he likes “getting with the boys.”

We learned quickly that his grandchildren are truly what keeps him smiling ear to ear. Ted took great pride in his duties as grandfather and relished each opportunity to spoil them.

So, despite some sad memories, Ted regaled us with plenty of happy ones.