• Paige Kornblue

Honoring the heroes we can hug and the ones we wish we could

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

On this Veterans Day, highlighting my heroes and warriors with the help of a little girl named Lauren

When Lauren Harper was just three years old, she and her mom, Kristi, took me along on a pretty special day trip.

It was a sunny, warm day in June of 2011 and we ventured out from our neighboring Dallas homes to the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas.

This was the day we were welcoming Lauren’s daddy and Kristi’s husband home following a lengthy deployment to Afghanistan.

And Lt. Colonel Brian Harper (‘Major’ Harper at the time) wasn’t just going to be in the returning plane… he would be piloting it.

I’ve covered countless amazing hero homecomings during my time as a news anchor and reporter, but I still can’t find the words to describe the excitement and anticipation in the crowd that day; family members and best friends anxiously awaiting the arrival of their loved ones, members of the 181st Airlift Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, who had been serving overseas for months.

It’s the story of so many... month after month. Year after year.

And let me tell ya, heroes and hugs don’t get any better than this.

On this Veterans Day, these are the men and women we honor and thank alongside our brave veterans, those who made sacrifices for the common good.

I raise my glass to not only Lt. Colonel Brian Harper, but also dear friends and Navy superheroes, Commander Ted Marchildon, USNR and Lt. Craig Ruhs.

And I salute those I wish were still with us to hug and thank, like my late grandfather, my mother’s father, Major G. Horace Berry, who joined the military in 1939 and worked in civil service for 24 years. He was a military police officer in the U.S. Army and later, a member of the Retired Military Police Officers Association.

And last but certainly not least, my favorite warrior of all, my father, Capt. Edwin B. Kornblue, Dental Corps, USNR who I salute daily when I look at the skies above and the seas that surround us.

My dad passed away just three months ago and like so many veterans, his legacy remains through his service, stories and the amazing photos and memories he left behind.

My dad often spoke about giving back - considering service to our country in the years between high school and college or after college. He spoke of his Navy days - difficult and challenging yet rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable. And he spoke of and loved reading about the men and women who served before him and after him.

This warrior took care of the teeth of many of our mid-century sailors. He kept them out of pain... providing medical care, comfort and most certainly much laughter. He entered the US Navy in the 1950’s and served on Active Duty as the dental officer aboard the Battleship U.S.S. Iowa, the U.S.S. Tidewater and the 6th fleet flagship, U.S.S. Newport News. He remained as a Naval Reservist for 27 years achieving the rank of Captain (DC) USNR and was our local candidate guidance officer for the United States Naval Academy for over 25 years.

This is certainly the year and definitely the day to take a moment to thank the warriors in your life, hug the ones you can or even send a simple salute to the skies.

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