Today, I am headed to College Station to watch the Fightin’ Texas Aggies BTHO SMU. Of course, aside from watching football, I will be there to enjoy the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. I was in the Aggie Band and loved every minute of it. Every time that I hear them step off, it makes me a little sad that I am no longer marching among their ranks.
I went to school with some of the finest men and woman that you have known. Many of those that I went to school with, went on to serve honorably in the military – some of them did not return home and others returned with the lifelong scars of combat.
Looking back on my time in the Corps of Cadets brings back so many good memories. One such memory that I recently shared with some former members of the Corps is a story that many of my buddies from my outfit have not even heard.
I was C/O 2000 B-Batt and our Sophomore year, one of our buddies (Zach Washburn) was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street. He spent weeks in the ICU in a coma and the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, Maj. Gen. Ted Hopgood (USMC Ret.), invited Zach’s parents to stay at his house while their son was in the hospital. Zach’s mom had bonded with me quickly. Gen. Hopgood and his wife would call me to check in to see how my buddies were handling the situation. One night, Gen. Hopgood invites me to dinner at his house so that I can spend some time with the Washburns and get away from the Quad. I arrived for dinner and we sat in the living room taking part in some pre-dinner discussion. I was not exactly relaxed, afterall, I was a sophomore having dinner at the Commandant’s house. Dinnertime rolls around and Mrs. Hopgood asks if I would like some green beans, I said, “Yes Ma’am.” After she passed the green beans, I said, “Thank you, Ma’am.” Mrs. Hopgood abruptly stops and says, “David, my name is Carolyn. Please call me Carolyn, okay?” I said, “Yes, Ma’am.” Then she responded with, “Let’s try this again, I am Carolyn and this is Ted. Now say Ted!” I looked over at the Commandant and I was stuck, I didn’t know what to do, I was thinking, “This is not going to go well for me.” Then Carolyn says, “Look David, my husband wears stars on his collar and he may run the Corps of Cadets, but those stars come off when he walks through that door, call him Ted.” I looked back at Gen. Hopgood and he gave me a non-verbal “Do what she says” look. So I said, “Good evening Ted.” Gen Hopgood said, “There you go David!”
I have to say that I will forever remember dinner that night. Carolyn and Ted Hopgood are one of the most loving and compassionate couples that I have met; they took the Washburns into their home for a good 9 weeks while Zach was in the hospital. I am not sure if they even think much of that night, but I remember it like it was yesterday – sitting with Ted and Carolyn Hopgood over Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans. By the way, Carolyn was a great cook.