01 August 2011

August 1

    I would like to tell you about my best friend (outside of Hilda, my significant other, that is). He and I met in Tombstone in 1970 or so. We did stunt work together, we drank together (a lot), and we talked together (again, a lot).
    Dr Stanley S. McGowen (of Weatherford, Texas) has been blind for twenty years. He was in the U.S. Army when it happened. He had been an Infantry Platoon Leader in Vietnam, Military Intelligence Officer with the 101st Airborne, helicopter pilot and Company Commander. He served 21 years in the Army. He resigned his commission when President Carter pardoned the draft dodgers. However, he missed the Army a lot and went back in after a few years and had to take a Warrant Officer slot as a helicopter pilot, as there were no Major's slots available.  
   A plane crash in 1990 took his sight. After multiple operations, "Valdez" (as we call him) went back to college at Texas Christian and got his MA and  PhD in History. After teaching college for ten years and writing a few books he decided to retire. You really should get a copy of 'Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke ... The 1st Texas Cavalry in the Civil War'. It is published by Texas A&M University Press. Although it is a history book, it is a really good read. You also might like his book of stories from Vietnam titled "You Ain't Gonna Believe This, But ...". It is published by Trafford Press. I believe that both are available online.
    Valdez was the coordinator of the “Texas Project,”which was inaugurated by the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF). It offered America’s injured veterans the opportunity to participate in various outdoor events.  During those years as Texas Project Coordinator, and member of Safari Club International’s Veteran’s Committee, McGowen organized programs that allowed over 200 injured Veterans and family members to participate in hunting and other outdoor activities.  Recently Dr. McGowen was instrumental in the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) initiating legislation which permits legally blind hunters to utilize laser sights to hunt game animals in Texas, greatly enhancing visually impaired hunters’s chance of success.
   Stan (Valdez) was the first and only  blind person to kill the Cape Buffalo in the wild in Africa. He has many kills of game animals in the U.S. and Canada and also in Africa. He has killed an elephant (a rogue, that was bothering villagers) ... at night. Every time that life starts to get me down, I think of Stan and how he has dealt with what has been handed to him. He is a remarkable human being and I am proud that he is my friend. Hilda and I and my nietos (G-kids) love him and his wife Jolene to death.
                  Go get 'em Valdez!
   He just returned from another trip to Africa, and sent me this e-mail:

  The hunt was bought 2 years ago at auction. I was trying to bid up the hunt to make more money for our SCI chapter and got caught when bidding stopped. The hunt was for Gemsbok (Oryx) mostly, but for other plains game, including black wildebeest. Hunt was successful as you may see.