Category Archives: Irving

Army veteran pays it forward, appreciates mortgage-free home in Irving

King

Major Eric King (Ret), US Army

I was honored to interview Major Eric King (Retired), US Army, for a recent story about Unite for Troops and the City of Irving’s Veterans Day ceremonies. 

As usual, I did some background research, and found out that Major King was the recipient of a mortgage-free home, with land donated by the City of Irving, along with Winston Custom Homes, the Dallas Builders Association and NEC Corporation of America. [Read the Article from Dallas Builders Here]

 

Video Courtesy of Dallas Builders Association

According to his biography:

Major King, a native of Marianna Arkansas, joined the Arkansas Army National Guard in June 2000 and enlisted as a Combat Engineer. He then enrolled into the Golden Lion Battalion Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of Arkansas At Pine Bluff.  After receiving his Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice in May 2003, Major King was commissioned Active Duty as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in the Quartermaster Corps and branch detailed into the Infantry Corps as a Second Lieutenant.

Major King’s outstanding and stellar military career begins with his service as an Infantry Officer from October 2003 through November 2008. Throughout Major King’s service his responsibilities continued to increase. Major King served as a Rifle Platoon leader, Company Commander (CO) Supply and Services Officer, Battalion S4, Battalion Executive Officer (XO), Instructor, Writer, and a Brigade Operations Officer. These positions reinforced Major King’s strong leadership abilities and his uncanny willingness to learn new skills and abilities. Major King’s oversight of Soldiers ranged from a platoon of 75 to an entire brigade of 3,500 men and women. During Major King’s military career, he was deployed on four overseas missions in service to our country. Major King’s first combat deployment was in 2004 through 2005 to Iraq. Major King entered this mission as an Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader overseeing 75 Infantrymen. 

His platoon received multiple Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks, ambushes and gun battles. This deployment was followed by his second combat deployment in 2007 through 2008 to Iraq as a Company Commander. His responsibility as the CO was to oversee 5 platoons of over 250 Soldiers and their direct health, welfare and their operational responsibilities. During these two deployments, Major King witnessed and experienced heavy fighting causing casualties to his troops, himself and coalition forces. These losses have weighed heavily on Major King and he has never taken his responsibilities as a Soldier, Leader, Commander, and Field Grade Officer lightly. 

In 2013 through 2014 Major King was deployed to Afghanistan as the Brigade Operations Officer, BDE S3 OIC. During this deployment, Major King exhibited his leadership skills yet again by overseeing brigade operations for the entire Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan (CJOA-A). During this combat tour, Major King was responsible for overseeing and leading every aspect of his brigade’s tactical operations across the CJOA-A of 3,500 Soldiers and civilians.

Major King’s final overseas deployment was to Liberia West Africa in 2014 through 2015 in support of the fight against Ebola as he deployed his battalion as the acting battalion commander. During this humanitarian mission, Major King and his battalion provided aid and assistance to the African nation during a health crisis in which Ebola was ravaging the region. 

Major King’s leadership and organizational skills were essential during this global crisis.

After 16 years of service and sustaining multiple injuries and a distinguished career, Major King was honorably and medically retired on 28 June 2016. However, prior to his retirement, Major King amassed the following awards and decorations and he is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt from Prude University:

Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral two, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Airborne Badge, Air Assault Badge and Parachute Rigger Badge. 

Major King is a great American who has sacrificed greatly for this nation. He is a man of tremendous faith who has a powerful voice for those who are suffering and in need. Major King is passionate about military Veterans who like him might be suffering from PTSD and other health issues resulting from combat. 

Major King recently spoke on the Glenn Beck Radio Show and revealed his desire to speak to others about adversity, leadership, conflict and hope. Major King very much looks forward to spreading his message of encouragement for many years to come.

There are so many Veterans in the world with a story just like Major King’s. His only goal and vision now is to restore, replenish, and revive his fellow brothers and sisters so they can enjoy the present, let go of the past, and prepare for a better future by helping them to reclaim their lives which is why he founded his nonprofit corporation, VetsWhatsNext.

vetswhatsnext-logoofficialTo learn more about VetsWhatsNext, please visit their website – and stay tuned for the imminent launch of the VetsWhatsNext mobile app! King said that its purpose is, “To empower all veterans, with emphasis on Millennials and Generation X Vets. They have the most trouble figuring out where to get help.”

I think we all share some level of appreciation for our active troops and veterans, but it’s not often that some of that appreciation comes “home” to them. Congratulations, Major King, and thank you for your service!

 

 

Irving’s Unite for Troops honors veterans, provides for active military during Veteran’s Day event

Unite for Troops, a grassroots non-profit organization, held its 8th Annual Veteran’s Day Celebration on Saturday November 9 in Porter’s Army Navy store parking lot in Irving.

Unite for Troops was founded two days after 9/11 by Cindy Porter, who felt moved to do something to show support for our troops, domestic and abroad.

Volunteers were present to pack donated supplies into boxes to ship around the world. The boxes are decorated on the inside by helpers and kids for an extra morale booster.

“We are shipping supplies to our troops worldwide,” Porter said. “They are asking for more help because, right after 9/11, everyone was supporting them, but very few supplies go over there now. These supplies are going to the most desolate and desperate areas. We are free to do things like this and to live our lives because of our troops.”

The most popularly requested supplies are toiletries, various snacks, socks, batteries, puzzle books, flip flops and over the counter pain relievers, such as Advil and Tylenol.

Four colors of ribbons were available at no charge to pin on attendees’ shirts: Red signified an active soldier, Blue represented a retired member of the military, White indicated a family member or a friend of someone who is or had served, and Golden was a special ribbon for veterans of WWII.

There were plenty of things to do for people of all ages. Musical entertainment included singers and bands on the big stage playing songs that were supportive of all military. BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs and homemade ice cream were offered.

Kids enjoyed their own area, which featured a petting zoo, crafts, face painting, a bounce house, games and even a reptile exhibit. A bull ride machine was available for all ages who were brave enough to take it on. Canine Companions and the DFW Humane Society also brought both service dogs and dogs available for adoption.

Santa Claus even made a special trip to the event to show his support.

“Santa usually doesn’t come out this early in the year, but he wanted to come out and support the troops. When he heard about it, he said he wanted to stop by in his camos [camouflage] in order to take the love and good wishes back to the troops as he heads back to the North Pole,” Porter said.

Irving Police Department brought vehicles out for kids of all ages to take a look at, including an official city car, as well as a Citizens on Patrol car, a half-track MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle and a drone.

Veterans were encouraged to bring  flags they had that needed a proper retirement, and a ceremony was held to do so in the afternoon.

The Troops of St. George had several fun offerings.

“We are a Catholic scouting organization here in the North Texas area,” said volunteer Paul Thies. “We represent a number of different Catholic parishes in this region. We are out here today to help support our troops in the field and to participate in the [Unite for Troops] Veteran’s Day event.

“With this tent, we are doing a number of things. We have a flag retirement booth, so when people bring their flags in, we will make sure they are properly disposed of [based on rules outlined in the Constitution]. They will be disposed of in the ceremony this afternoon. One of our leaders is raffling off a ride in a M*A*S*H Vietnam/Korean War era Bell 47 helicopter out at the Cavanaugh Air Museum in Addison. The lucky winner will get a 30-minute ride. We’re doing paintball as well. All of these things are to generate donations and 100% of everything collect will go to our troops via Unite for Troops,” Thies explained.

The helicopter was true to the TV show M*A*S*H down to its 4077 tail number.

Vietnam Veteran John Rose had his own booth, as he took over for Santa Claus when Santa had to go back to the North Pole. He said that he enlisted into the Army at age 26 and got sent to Vietnam for a year as part of a reconnaissance effort. Rose and four of his platoon mates lost their radios, so they hunkered down and learned Morse Code as a last-ditch attempt at communication because no one knew where they were. They were stranded for ten days. They finally received directions to a fire base and made it there on foot, where their commanding officers arranged transport home.

“What we started doing after we lost our receiver was to start going to Charlie’s [the enemy’s] supply depots and we started re-supplying ourselves with weapons, ammunition and a lot of rice. When we were done, we left a message for Charlie: We blew it [the supply depot] up,” Rose recalled with a grin.

“We made it to the fire base and we had long beards and nasty hair and we had hardly any sleep. I’m sure we were the sight. But they were happy to see us and we were sure happy to see them!

“After we made it to the fire base, we were all laying on the floor. One of the guys said, ‘Lieutenant, are those guys asleep? They aren’t paying attention.’ The Lt said, ‘They’re asleep, but make sure you don’t make any loud noises because they’ll wake up real fast and be ready to fight!” said Rose.

Fortunately, Rose does not suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) like so many of veterans do. There were several booths at the event collecting donations for programs to help with the transition to “normal” life as well as to fund programs to provide mental health services to veterans who need it.

For more information, visit UniteForTroops.com.

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Editor’s Corner: Toyota Music Factory brings big city entertainment to Irving, TX

By Stacey Doud

TixI was fortunate enough to score free tickets to see G. LoveBlues Traveler and moe. on August 10, 2019 at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving/Las Colinas. I had never been to this particular venue, so I was very curious about how such a large complex opened in a town with only 240,000 residents. Of course, with me being from Houston, I was used to the Toyota Center and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, both of which serve a population of close to 2.3 million people.

GLove wBTKeyboard

G. Love with the keyboardist from Blues Traveler

It turns out that there was a bond election in 2007, in which Irving/Las Colinas voters said “yes” to finance an entertainment center right off of State Highway 114, almost adjacent to the existing Irving/Las Colinas Convention Center and Hotel. The complex consists of about 210,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, which includes an Alamo Draft House movie theater, several restaurants and retail shops and a bowling alley. Next to these retail facilties is a 65,000 square foot music venue called “The Pavilion at the Toyota Music Factory,” which can seat 4,000 people with its walls closed, and 8,000 people with everything open in “amphitheater [outdoor] mode.”

Originally scheduled to open as the “Irving Music Factory” on September 1, 2017, construction delays caused the opening to be postponed until September 9. The developers announced that the venue was being renamed the “Toyota Music Factory” and would feature Texas rockers ZZ Top as its inaugural concert.

The new venue has done extremely well, featuring mostly “classic rock” artists, such as Ringo StarrLindsey Buckingham and Lauryn Hill, to up-and-comers such as G. Love, to family-friendly shows such as Kidz Bop.

I found the facilities very easy to navigate, from the parking garage to the music venue. Once inside (the roof was closed due to extreme heat), there was plenty of room to walk around and peruse the booths that offered show merchandise, as well as food/drink areas, which offered the usual concert fare and beverages, along with some franchise outlets.

The venue itself offered excellent acoustics and plenty of leg room in the floor seats (I am 5’5″ and had no problems. My hubby is 6’6″ and only had minor difficulties). I don’t know how it sounds in amphitheater mode, but I’m looking forward to going back when the weather is a bit cooler.

There were plenty of helpful employees stationed about to direct us newbies when we got lost. The restrooms were placed at good intervals and there were several food and beverage stands placed conveniently around the rotunda.

All in all, we enjoyed the concert very much. We are looking forward to seeing other acts there, and would very much like to try out the amphitheater feature of the venue.

BT

Blues Traveler

To learn more about the Toyota Music Factory and the talent line-up, visit https://toyotamusicfactory.com/.