Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Top Stories

November 11, 2012

Military service something she would do again ‘in a heartbeat’

By LIBBY CLUETT

At age 30, Athena Hodges Brown is among the county’s younger veterans, but by serving five years in the U.S. Navy, she has seen the ocean – actually, she said she has “seen many different oceans.”

Since she’s a 2001 Mineral Wells High School graduate, she hasn’t missed a local Veterans’ Day ceremony, with the exception of her years in military service.

As some readers may know, she hasn’t been totally respected as a veteran participant. It’s been two years since she “was interrogated and harassed,” at the 2010 Veteran’s Day ceremony, by so-called veterans. That treatment was, for her, “The worst it’s ever been.”

“I didn’t have any problems last year,” she said with a smile, adding that she received “honorable treatment” when she and her mother were invited to sit on the field on the same row as dignitaries like Mayor Mike Allen, State Rep. Jim Keffer and State Sen. Craig Estes.

“I was nervous, but I felt honored to sit down with fellow veterans,” she said.

With her low point behind her, Brown said this year should be one of her high points. She won’t be on the field, but her daughter, Kaylee, will be, performing as a Lamar Little Trooper.

The first grader told her mom that she “got picked to toss around a toy rifle” in Monday’s ceremony. 

Sea to shining sea

Brown served in the Navy from Aug. 8, 2001, to March 6, 2006.

“I was in boot camp when 911 hit,” she recalled. “It made everybody be more cautious.”

She was a storekeeper and served for two years on “a small ship,” she said of the 610-foot-long U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-51), docked near Virginia Beach, that had a regular crew of about 300.

She served on a six-month deployment, which Brown said included “some training and I got to see ports across the world. It was awesome.”

She saw Spain, Crete, Bahrain, the Seychelles and her ship transported Marines for Iraqi Freedom.

It was weathering Hurricane Isabel in 2003 – somewhat like Hurricane Sandy – that provided much excitement while Brown served on the Oak Hill. Riding out the storm on the ocean, as the ship tried to stay on the edge of the storm, was “Interesting, to say the least. We couldn’t walk anywhere because of rocking ship.”

Brown served at the Oceana Naval Air Station and with the Navy’s Seabee, or construction battalion, unit’s Underwater Construction Team One, at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, both in the Virginia Beach region of Virginia.

She followed in the footsteps of her brother, James Hodges, who joined the Navy.

“I wanted to grow up and be just like him,” she said. “He was the main reason. And the fact that I was serving my country.”

“I loved it. Even when Iraqi Freedom was going on, we transported some Marines – they got close to land, but Marines disembarked in ‘amphibs,’” she recalled of her deployment.

“It gives me a sense of pride and honor that I can say I served my country. I’d gladly do it again in a heartbeat.”

Brown also has a 5-year-old son at Lamar, who might follow in his sister’s footsteps as a Little Trooper next year.

But Kaylee has been preparing to perform before her mother and her fellow veterans.

“She is beyond thrilled that she gets to perform,” Brown said, adding that she will be sitting (or standing and photographing) from the visitor-side stands, with the mass of veterans.

To her, the day and ceremony honors “those who served before me and those who literally gave their all. And to honor those out there right now, risking everything,” she said.

Two years ago, Brown left the ceremony early when she was “interrogated and harassed by two Army veterans.” She had been sitting alone on the home side of the stadium and their harassment began shortly after she arrived.

She’s forgiven them, she said. She added that she met “many many local veterans” after the incident hit the news. She said Commander Jim Vines invited her to become a fellow member of AmVets Post 133.

“I love those guys,” Brown said.

“I won’t miss [a Veteran’s Day ceremony] unless I’m in the hospital,” she said. “I’ll go every year.”

For other veterans in attendance Monday, she said, “I hope that they get to take home that they are appreciated, they are being honored and respected and we are thankful that they go out and do what they do.”

“Whether in the Coast Guard, Army, Navy or Marines, they give up such a big part of their life,” Brown said. “Especially those going off to Iraq or Afghanistan. The ones fighting over there don’t know if they are going to make it through the day. Those are the families I pray for the most, those [with loved ones] fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They don’t know when their soldier’s going to come home.”

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • Woman killed in one-vehicle wreck

    SALESVILLE – A Mineral Wells woman died Friday after she crashed her car into a brick retaining wall near Hilltop Road.

    July 28, 2014

  • bryan joyner1.jpg Back on the beat

    It is never too late to start a music career – or restart one as the case may be. For Mineral Wells High School Class of 1989 graduate Bryan Adam Joyner, restarting his is the case. He is once again making a strong push to get his music into the mainstream while performing wherever he can.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Link

  • FLIPPED TEACHING

    Teenagers seem to voraciously consume YouTube videos, whether watching Miley Cyrus and Pharrell’s latest pop music sensation, Jimmy Fallon and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s workout spoof or skateboarders wiping out.

    July 27, 2014

  • Barbara Dews and compost.jpg Inspectors return to health products company

    Texas Department of State Health Services inspectors arrived Wednesday to investigate a Mineral Wells-based natural health products manufacturer, Metro Chem Associates, as part of ongoing Attorney General’s probe into the company’s operations.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • kitchen fire.jpg Kitchen fire damages county home

    PALO PINTO COUNTY – For Garen Wyatt, of Mineral Wells, mid-morning Thursday turned into one of those days in which a few minutes proved the tipping point between bad and devastating.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • burglary suspects.jpg Police make burglary arrests, issue scam alert

    Mineral Wells police rounded up several burglary suspects this past week, each reportedly caught in the act.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • AT&T.jpg Trouble on that tower: AT&T customers continue to air cellular service gripes

    Despite assurances from AT&T earlier this month that ongoing network cellular service issues in the Mineral Wells area were fixed or soon would be, many local customers continue to complain about poor service.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Becky McDonald and Spot.jpg NO KILL ZONE: Animal shelter working with Humane Society to end euthanasias

    About mid-morning one day at the Mineral Wells Animal Shelter, Becky McDonald, shelter coordinator, makes some time to check phone messages. When she plays it back, it's a request for the shelter to pick up some apparently abandoned kittens.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry Jay Williams.jpg A stunning arrest

    After a brief scuffle Sunday morning, a Mineral Wells police officer stunned and arrested a man allegedly caught in the act of burglarizing a home.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • p-4.php.jpeg 'The Blessings of Liberty'

    An exhibit, “The Blessings of Liberty,” is now open for viewing at the Palo Pinto County Old Jail Museum and will be available through Aug. 2. It is provided and organized by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. A community grant from Humanities to the Museum paid for the exhibit. This is the third year outright grants have been awarded to the museum.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
SmugMug


Click on a photo to see our SmugMug photos

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.