By Aubrey Turner | DFW Newsflash | September 2019
Irving — Medal of Honor recipients, their spouses, and supporters of the Armed Forces and education honored Lt. Colonel James “Maggie” Magellas, and Brigadier General of the Texas State Guard Robert Hastings, Jr. at the DFW Sheridan Hotel on Saturday, Sept. 14. The event was coordinated by Tribute to Valor Foundation through the America’s Future Series.
Lt. Colonel Megellas is the most decorated member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He served during World War II, returning to the United States and joining the Army Reserves when his active service was complete. Now 102-years-old, Megellas feels he is alive because his mission is not complete.
“I want to see the next generation come together and talk about how to create peace,” Megellas said. “The generation that creates peace will be the Greatest Generation, and I would like to see that.”
Brigadier General Robert Hastings is the chief of staff and executive vice president of communications for Bell. He also commands the Army component of the Texas State Guard. “The commission [the Tribute to Valor Foundation] has undertaken to bring the Medal of Honor recipients to our youth is a great example of the values of our military,” Hastings said.
The Tribute to Valor Foundation’s mission is to impact, inspire, and influence the youth of America.
“Our mission is to get recipients and athletes into our schools, and we talk about character,” Gary Littrell, Tribute to Valor Foundation chairman, said. “I talk about courage, commitment, and then I hone in on integrity. Integrity resonates with these kids more than anything else. We know these kids have heard about commitment and courage; they need the integrity.”
“We went to 17 schools yesterday with the recipients,” Kim Peysha, advisor for Tribute to Valor Foundation, said. “We normally see about 10,000 students each visit. We talk to them about how important each individual child is, especially when acting with integrity.
“We also take [students] from less-privileged areas on STEM trips. The future of our country, whether they join the military or not, is in science and technology, so we encourage those children to work hard and learn those skills.”
“This organization has a really good reputation,” Medal of Honor recipient Don Ballard said. “We in the military have already defended the country and are now back home. We look for other things to get involved in and educating the youth is our goal. If we can educate our youth, we can create a better country. We also want to promote veteran support as well.”
“The Tribute to Valor Foundation is here to honor the commitment of the men and women who served in our military and to let them know they are still important,” former Congressman Pete Sessions said. “We as a country must have the greatest military, which means great young people. We are here to honor them, respect them, to inspire the youth, and to make sure the impact they make is meaningful.
“The freedoms we enjoy today come from the sacrifices from the people in this room.”
“Anything we can do for the military is terrific,” supporter Mary Vlamides said. “They have given their lives for us; we can support them. We also need to support the children and teach them how to be good people. This is a good cause.”
“This is a tribute to the veterans,” Stephen Lacy said. “I love how they tied it to children and education. They are being proactive and moving this forward, rather than just a tribute to veterans.
“We need younger people to attend these events to honor these veterans. It is hard for younger people to appreciate the sacrifices made but it is important.”