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Thursday, October 3, 1996

Banquet closes out Army Airfield reunion

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Staff Writer

PECOS, October 3, 1996 - Red, white and blue adorned the Reeves County
Civic Center on Wednesday evening in keeping with the special occasion
honoring World War II Army veterans who were stationed here more than 50
years ago.

A banquet was held to culminate the 1996 Army Airfield Reunion. The
three-day event began on Monday, and provided individuals who were
stationed at the Pecos Army Air Base during World War II an opportunity
to catch up on each other lives'.

Most of the soldiers were stationed here in Pecos from 1942-1945 and
were part of an aviation crew. These veterans now reside in different
parts of the country traveled to Pecos for the special occasion.

A total of about 65 veterans and their families participated in this
year's event. The number is about the same as the event held two years
ago, organizers said.

The reunion also included veterans who were stationed 25 miles to the
east, at the Rattlesnake Bomber Base in Pyote.

Major Howard Blackstock, who was stationed at the Pyote base during the
war enlightened the crowd with his own version of the life of Pecos Bill
and Judge Roy Bean, law west of the Pecos.

"I wasn't stationed in Pecos, but I was nearby and I got to meet a lot
of the soldiers who were stationed here," said Blackstock. "I'm very
happy to have been a part of this gathering," he said.

Gerald Tellez spoke on behalf of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce.

"I have an uncle, Charlie Rivera was also stationed in Pyote during the
war, he now resides in California and he told me to tell everyone hello
for him and to tell them how sorry he was to have missed this special
occasion," said Tellez.

Tellez told the audience that he was finding it hard to find an ending
to his speech. "I wanted something for a big finish, for this big
caliber of people," said Tellez. "I finally found it, today, when a
truck was backing up and I saw a bumper sticker on it and I found my
answer," he said.

The bumper sticker Tellez was speaking about read, "Never Underestimate
An American."

"That's how I feel about everyone in this room, everyone that provided
this country such a great service," he said.

Connie McAlister wowed the attendees with her rendition of the Star
Spangled Banner and the Pecos Boy Scouts presented the colors. Jim Ivy
gave a special invocation.

Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford was on hand to update the
audience on the status of the city. She also encouraged everyone to
attend the next reunion scheduled in two years.

Chairman of the reunion committee Pete Bullock thanked the museum crew
and curator Dorinda Venegas, for the wonderful decorations and Bill
Pitts entertained with his bag of magic tricks.

"Everyone back then had one objective, to get through the war and come
home to a nice safe place to live," said Bullock. "I really love this
town, it holds a lot of memories for me, and I'm hoping to return in two
years," he said.

Bullock also praised the people in Pecos, stating that they were the
friendliest and most helpful individuals he had ever met.

The Andrews Sisters - Connie McAlister, Kathy Garlitz and Genene Ivy -
were on hand, bringing back memories for all those present with their
vocal renditions.

The keynote speaker for the event was Pat Patterson, a Pecos Army
Airfield veteran and last year's committee chairman. Patterson
reminisced about the "old days" and spoke fondly of his memories of
Pecos and his life on the base.

Patterson told the crowd that his most fondest memories are of him and
his friend.

"We used to go shopping for the wives, I guess we felt guilty because
we were out traveling while they stayed at home," Patterson said. "Our
only criteria before entering a store was that they have two of
anything, whether it was a dress, skirt or blouse, we bought our wives'
the same thing, always," he said.

All that attended the reunion spoke fondly of Pecos, about the event
itself and said that they had a great time and can't wait until two
years from now for the next reunion.

Reporter goes on mission to Mexico

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Enterprise reporter Peggy McCracken spent two weeks as a
member of a Baptist missionary group in southern Mexico. In this article
she recounts her experiences.

Staff Writer
Related Photos
PECOS, October 3, 1996 - Mexico is a beautiful land, rich in natural
resources and its people, I learned on a two-week mission trip to the
state of Michoacan.

Rey Carreon and I left Midland on an American Eagle "crop duster" Sept.
19 for Dallas where we met about 50 other evangelists and emplaned for
Mexico City.

A charter bus took us from the airport in Mexico City to Morelia, where
we spent two nights and met with evangelists from South and Central
America. All were recruited by International Crusades of Dallas to work
with 33 Baptist churches scattered throughout Michoacan.

We were assigned to Sahuayo, an agriculture-based city of 178,000 near
the western edge of Michoacan, a two-hour drive, mas or menos, south of

Members of Primera Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor (First Baptist Church
of the Good Shephard) met us in Zamora for a rally and took us on to
their church on Saturday. After a worship service and fellowship meal at
the church, two families put us up for the night in their lovely homes.

Sunday began our week of hard work, preaching (Rey), singing, playing
the piano (Peggy), visiting door-to-door each morning and by appointment
in homes each afternoon.

German Quezada of Mexico City joined us on Monday, and Gerardo Pineda of
Honduras came on Wednesday. David Orozco Guani of Guadalajara, a
descendant of Aztec kings, was in town visiting relatives, and he also
worked with us.

Church members were so loving and gracious that we fell in love with
them immediately. We located our hotel room on Sunday afternoon, but
only spent about 10 hours there each night to sleep and freshen up. The
church bus arrived at the hotel at 8 a.m., mas o menos (more or less),
every day to take us to a member's home for breakfast.

They respected my all-fruit diet and provided me with papaya, bananas,
apples, orange juice and other fruits throughout the week. As a result,
I was able to walk long distances and maintain my energy until late at

Concentrating on understanding and speaking Spanish took a lot of
energy, but Rey and others interpreted for me late in the day when I was
too tired to think. (And through the day when I didn't understand the

Corn fields surround Sahuayo and can be seen on every vacant lot in
town. A big corn field is located just across the street from the church
building, which is on the edge of town in a Colonia named San Ysidro.

People in the colonia live in brick houses, as does everyone else in
that area. They have a brick factory in Sahuayo, and some individuals
make their own brick from the rich red soil.

Sahuayo sits in a valley at the foot of several mountain peaks and
stretches up the mountains. One mountain has many palatial homes, while
another nearby is crowded with humble dwellings. Some have dirt floors,
others concrete. Better homes all have tile floors.

Both on the mountain and downtown, homes and businesses sit
side-by-side. Many are operated out the front door of the homes. Street
vendors sell everything from tamales to huraches. You don't have to walk
far to find a meal, a suit of clothes or a doctor's office.

As we had breakfast in a humble mountain home on Friday morning, we
admired the breathtaking view of the valley and surrounding mountains. I
had to sing the second verse of "How Great Thou Art" (in Spanish - Cuan
Grande es El), which is about God's mountains and valleys, beautiful
flowers, singing birds and murmur of the clear spring.

After breakfast, we walked down the mountain to the downtown street
market, where we handed out agua dulce (like Kool-Aid) and tracts. The
men preached over a loudspeaker, cassette tapes provided music, and one
of the men played a guitar while the group sang.

The mayor had warned church members not to do anything to draw a crowd,
so we were discreet. Evangelical Christians are sorely persecuted in
that area. An Assembly of God evangelist told me as we were leaving
Monday that his car was stoned the previous day.

In a victory rally at the church Sunday night, several who had accepted
Jesus as their savior during the week were present. We each told what
the week had meant to us and encouraged the church to follow up with
those we had contacted.

Rey and I presented the church a clock from West Park Baptist Church and
gave each family a small memento. They gave us small sombreros from the
church, then individual members loaded us up with gifts as we left.

We were supposed to leave Sahuayo at 7:30 a.m. Monday for a rally in
Zamora. We left at 10 and arrived at the tail-end of the rally, where
they gave each evangelist a beautiful hand-carved and painted wooden

Saying goodbye to our church family was hard, with tears all around.
Boarding the charter bus for Morelia, we snapped a few last photos, sang
choruses and waved goodbye until our arms tired.

On the ride to Morelia, I sat next to a postal clerk from Graham who was
on his 14th crusade. He described it as "terrible and wonderful."

Terrible because of the tiring bus and plane rides, long work days with
poor transportation and difficult situations he faced.

Wonderful because of the 80-plus people he and his team won to Jesus in
a small town near Zamora.

One of those was a woman described by her neighbors as "just plain
mean." He had helped break up a fight between her and another woman,
praying that God would make Satan leave her.

Later, he went to her home and told the "mean" woman and her family
about Jesus, and they accepted him as their savior.

Jimmy Sweetnam cried as he told me that the woman brought him a
fresh-baked cake in gratitude when she came to church that evening.

In Morelia, we attended another victory rally and learned that more than
3,000 people had accepted Jesus in the crusade. What an upper! We could
have flown home without the help of American Airlines.

But we didn't. On Tuesday, we took another long bus ride into Mexico
City. I ate my last great meal of Mexican food at the airport,
preferring a "hurache" (sandal) to a Big Mac.

Mexican food was my favorite part of the trip. During the two-hour lunch
in members homes each day, we stuffed on such a variety of good food, I
couldn't begin to name all the dishes. I do remember the roasted horse
meat at the Saturday picnic and a boiled head of something (they said a
burro, but I guess a cow) the previous day, sweet tamales and hot, hot
pico salsa.

On our last day in Sahuayo, the Honduran and I ate with the family of a
young church member named Raul Girarte. He asked me to talk with his
mother, who is dying of cancer and is not a believer.

Although she had been in the hospital all week for blood transfusions,
Sra. Girarte cooked us a five-course meal fit for a king. I ate sweet
tamales, pollo mole con rice and vegetable soup until I was almost
ashamed. But her son, Jaime, out-did me. We teased him about eating so
much it made him poor to carry it.

Another Son, Jose Luis, had just completed a computer science degree at
the university in Monterrey, and we talked in English about Internet
home pages until his mother begged us to stop. Not everyone is nutty
about computers, and she doesn't understand English.

Rey and German ate with the Noeh Gil family. He is a doctor (GP), and
his wife is a botanist. Their two sons are studying piano. Roman, 14, is
studying English, so I gave him a cassette of a gospel song, "One
Scarred Hand," and the written words to it. He promised to learn it and
sing to me the next time I visit there.

And I think I will visit there sometime when I can just be a tourist. I
would fly from El Paso into Guadalajara, though, and take a bus or one
of the thousands of Volkswagen bug taxis into Sahuayo.

I wouldn't rent a car, because I don't think I could drive on those
narrow streets with no stop signs. Despite the uncontrolled traffic, we
saw only one accident. Two cars hit head-on in the intersection where we
were waiting to depart Monday. Due to speed bumps and potholes, neither
was going very fast, so they just backed up, waved and went on their way.

Volkswagen taxis and van buses clogged the streets in Mexico City. It
wasn't even rush hour when we arrived, but we crawled through the
sprawling city for what seemed like hours.

It was hard for me to shift gears from Spanish to English on the flight
home, but by the time we landed in Midland Tuesday night, I was
beginning to return to a gringa. Rey's family picked us up at the
airport, and we chattered all the way home about our experiences.

Back at work on Wednesday, I found it hard to remember what I was
supposed to do. Work was the last thing on my mind when I was in Mexico.
In fact, I was assimilated into the relaxed Mexican culture on the
second day, forgetting about time and hurry.

I wanted to stay, and picked out a place on the mountain for my
retirement home. Social Security that barely buys bread in Texas would
provide a comfortable living there, with maid service.

So adios. Hasta la vista.Vaya con Dios. Goodbye, until we meet again. Go
with God.


Francisca Zepeda

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Services are incomplete for Francisca Zepeda, 83, who died Tuesday, Oct.
1 at Pecos County Hospital in Fort Stockton.
She was a resident of Sanderson.
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


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Pecos, October 3, 1996 - High Wednesday 92, low last night 58. Tonight,
cloudy. Areas of drizzle and fog possible. Low in the mid 50s. East wind
5-15 mph. Friday, mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers.
High in the mid 70s. Southeast wind 5-15 mph.

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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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