Editor's Note: This is the 18th in a series of weekly articles on individuals, who made positive contributions to Stephenville, the Cross Timbers area and/or the State of Texas.
By STUART CHILTON Special Contributor
As a little girl growing up in Bryan, she never envisioned traveling over the entire world.
Today's featured person was born in the Brazos County Seat March 5, 1939. She was the sixth of 11 children. In 1957, she graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan.
“I wanted to attend Texas A&M, but my dad said I couldn't since A&M was an all-male college. So, I enrolled at Texas Woman's University in Denton. My dad had a passion for two things - hard work and a good education.”
Following her graduation in 1963 from TWU with a major in nursing, she worked in a private hospital in Fort Worth for three years. When she enlisted as a registered nurse in the U.S. Air Force in September, 1967, the Vietnam War was going full throttle. Her rank was first lieutenant. Twenty six years later, she would retire on Oct. 1, 1993, with the rank of full colonel. This individual's service in the Air Force would take her over the entire world.
After some state-side assignments, she was dispatched to Vietnam in September, 1968, as a part of the 12th Air Force Hospital at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam. She would serve there until March, 1970, when she was transferred to Carswell Air Force Base at Fort Worth.
Regarding her time in Vietnam, she recalls, “It was during my time at Carswell, I noticed noises bothered me. I started having nightmares, then I noticed my face swelling. I immediately sought medical help, and I was told while in Vietnam, I had suppressed my fears, and now I was reacting to the war situation. I never felt scared while I was in Vietnam, but I guess I was.”
Her next duty station was Yokota, Japan. During this assignment, she was sent to Vietnam to bring wounded soldiers home. Later she was sent to the Philippines to prepare for the return of Prisoners of War from the Vietnam War. She made three trips to Hanoi in 1973 to pick up POWs. Some of the noted POWs on these flights included Col. Robbie Risner, Comdr. James Stockdale, Lt. J.G. Everett Alvarez and others. Extensive television news coverage took place in Hanoi, Clark Field in the Philippines and in the states. She attended a banquet in San Francisco that honored the POWs.
Ross Perot Sr., who was one of the banquet's featured speakers, spoke highly of this person and her devoted duty in caring for the POWs on their long trip from Hanoi to the states. She says, “I didn't know Mr. Perot was referring to me until he mentioned my name in his speech. I think caring for these POWs was the peak of my Air Force career.”
While stationed at Richard-Gebaur AFB in Missouri, she completed a master's degree in 1975 at Webster University in St. Louis. Other duty stations would follow in the United Kingdom, Arizona, the Philippines, New Mexico, Ohio, California and a return to Carswell AFB. She completed the Air Command and Staff College in 1982.
Following her discharge in 1993, she assumed the job as Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth. She came to Stephenville in November, 1994, as Nurse Executive at Harris Methodist Erath Hospital. After leaving the hospital in 2000, she accepted a teaching position in the School of Nursing at Tarleton State University. Her primary teaching duty is in the area of Leadership and Management for senior nursing students.
She served on the Stephenville City Council from 1997-2003. She's a member of the St. Mary's Catholic Church, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Cross Timbers Business and Professional Women's Club, Habitat for Humanity, Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council, Humane Society, Stephenville Lions Club, Stephenville 20th Century Club, Stephenville Music Club, Stephenville Economic Development Foundation and the Texas Nurses Association.
Her recognitions include Federal Employee of the Year, 1985; Erath County Woman of the Year, 1998 and DFW Great 100 Nurses, 1999.
She is not shy when she explains her single status. She says, “At times, I've had serious boy friends, but I never married. I guess I've been too busy to think about marriage.”
Yes, the road from Bryan to Stephenville was a long one, but an interesting journey that took her over the entire world before she settled in Stephenville 13 years ago. When this individual decided to make Stephenville her home, this city and area were the winners.
A Name to Remember - Col. (Ret.) Bea Marin
Dr. Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville. He occasionally writes for this newspaper.