Written by, Dorman Vick, Champion High School welding instructor
The event Friday night was a Major Event for Boerne ISD and the community of Boerne. The support and outpouring of love for a Veteran that was injured in the line of duty Friday night was almost too large for the Champion Welding Shop to hold. The school year this year got started with a phone call by myself to General Leroy Sisco that is the founder of the Military Warriors Support Foundation and a local resident that has given 858 homes away to wounded heroes. The value of those homes given to those heroes is in excess of 228 million. These homes are given to the disabled heroes for free along with a financial program that gets these heroes on the right path. If that isn’t enough the foundation gives out 400 hunting trips, fishing trips and golfing trips to heroes for free. The foundation driven by General Sisco is nothing short of a heavenly thing for changing heroes lives and their families that have sacrificed so much to this great country. I contacted the General in August 2018 and asked if he would be willing to partner with his foundation and my welding program at Samuel V Champion in a build of a Mobile Disabled Hunting Blind Trailer. The request was followed immediately with a yes and a master plan started to unfold faster than any dragster on Earth. We had great Hill country supporters that stepped up and fully funded the components needed to construct the trailer they are as followed: James C Payne, JR and his wife Peggy, Alamo Body & Paint, Capital Paint and Refinishing, BASF, The Graphix House, Wheeler’s Trailers, Gates Machine & Fabrication Inc., Rockwell American, Tractor Supply Co. and The Texas Disabled Veterans Association (TDVA). Once the funding of the trailer was secured we started constructing the blueprints in our CAD software as to make sure that every handicap detail was covered before the work started. The first piece of metal was cut in September and a journey of changing a hero’s life began. The content of the build went well past the content of any textbook printed as the teaching of the trades meet the lessons of all the sacrifices our American military and their families have made to make America the Greatest place on Earth. The trailer wasn’t finished until late February and was one of our 6 projects that we competed at the San Antonio Ag Mechanics contest that is held in conjunction with the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. We are proud to say that the trailer ended up in one of the toughest classes in the competition and ended up taking 1st place honors. The journey of the build of the trailer added up to hundreds of after school time including nights and weekends that students sacrificed of their time for this hero. I can say that since starting this program 14 years ago this year’s journey has been one of the most inspiring and powerful journeys to date for the program. It was early on in the build that General Sisco contacted me and notified me that his foundation had selected the recipient of the trailer and he sent me the bio of the hero. The hero is Michael Crawford served in the United States Army for four and a half years and was medically retired as an E-4/Specialist. He received a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Combat Action Badge. He moved around four times during his service, the first being to South Korea for one year. After his time in South Korea, he was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and then was deployed for the first time to Afghanistan. Crawford was severely injured in Afghanistan after his vehicle was struck by an IED. Crawford sustained a spinal burst fracture resulting in limited use of his lower extremities. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury and broke several bones in his legs and elbow. After his injury, Crawford has found joy in hunting. He has always enjoyed hunting and it means the world to him that he can continue to do so. He enjoys the camaraderie that he experiences hunting with other veterans and people who share the same passion. His favorite things to hunt are deer, elk, pheasant, and predator. Crawford currently lives in New Braunfels, TX with his wife, Loren, and son, Colt. This bio was posted around the shop as a daily motivation to my students and to myself of the mission at hand.
The excitement on Friday May 17th filled the CHS Welding Shop at 6pm as the presentation began with a full crowd of supporters from every corner of our community. The presentation began with the pledge of allegiance to a custom made wood American Flag that Chuck Brower with the American Legion Captain Mark ‘Tyler’ Voss Post 313 made and presented to Mr. Crawford. This was followed by an introduction to a special guest by General Sisco of the “KING OF WELDING” Jesse James. Jesse entered the shop wowing the students and crowd with his presence to honor Mr. Crawford with a custom made rifle that he had specially built for him. Mr. Crawford was totally surprised and full of emotions that the popeofwelding had surprised him with something that special. The crowd that was on the edge of their seats as it was time to call up all of the financial supporters of the trailer and then followed by the team of students that were the main build team, they consisted of Cody Sanders, Kelly Menz, Cole Anthony, Brandon Rodriguez, Cameron Bourgeois, Camron Beavers, Morgan Thompson, Jeremy Richter and Carter Hobbs. Two welding curtains and several black sheets were moved out of the way on a count of 3 to present the Mobile Hunting Blind. Mr. Crawford was ready to immediately checkout his trailer BUT the showering of love wasn’t over for him. General Sisco called up Paul Van Reenen the ranch manager for the Will Scott Ranch and he awarded Mr. Crawford with a trophy whitetail deer hunt. With a crowd that was blown away the announcement that he also would be receiving another trophy deer hunt with Cliff Wheeler on the Wheeler Ranch. General Sisco then announced that his foundation would pay for the mounting of the trophies harvested and informed Mr. Crawford that he better not miss. Well the rock star role out wasn’t over Dorman Vick the welding instructor rolled out a complete welding equipment package with everything that Mr. Crawford would need to get started in the Welding field, he also informed Mr. Crawford that himself and the class would give Mr. Crawford welding classes anytime to help him get good enough to find employment in the welding field. The last thing that was awarded to Mr. Crawford was a scope and rings for his new Jesse James rifle by Wheelers Feed & Outfitters.
Just when everyone thought everything was over Welding Instructor Dorman Vick awarded Jesse James with a custom built Cowboy Cooker built by the program! He explained in his presentation to Jesse that it was a gift from a group of tradesmen to a tradesman in return of his gift to the hero. Jesse was more than blown away with the gift and said that he would proudly have it at his shop and use the heck out of it. He went on to give the students credit on the high level of craftsmanship of the Cowboy Cooker! A big at-a-boy has to be for “Texas Trophy Hunters Association” who did a TV show about all of this that will air on the “Pursuit Channel” in front of 12,000,000 viewers and Champion HS and Boerne, TX will be seen Nation Wide. Three time Emmy Winning producer Bryan Hawkins will be going with Michael on his hunts and that will be part of the show also.
The story of Champions very own Boerne Welding Technology students embracing a hero has been seen around the World and our hope is that it inspires everyone to give back to our Heroes. We also hope that it gives a greater awareness to the importance of bringing our trades classes back into the public education system for the future of the trades. If nothing is done our trades could die forever.