HEMPSTEAD, Texas (FOX 26) - He's not a big guy, but he's a giant in this town. Pretty much everybody in Hempstead knows Travis Winfree, and they know even at 93 he's hard to stop once he puts his mind to something, and he put his mind to something all right.
"We're all going to fade away and nobody's going to know about those people who made it possible for them to be here," he said.
He's talking about throwing a Memorial Day parade. Yes, he's a veteran. But not just any veteran. In 1944, he was a 19-year-old kid with a hospital unit landing in the first wave on Omaha Beach in Normandy. They called it Bloody Omaha.
“Sounded like all hell broke loose. Everybody was just going crazy not knowing what to do," he said.
His job was to carry the wounded to safety. There was no safety on that beach that day. The memories of that day haunt him still.
“Blood and guts, man. I never talk about it,” he said, his voice filled with emotion.
There would be more to come. After D-Day, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He did his part, and he wanted to honor those who did even more. He wanted a parade. To make that happen he would need some help, so he knocked on Cheryl Hardwick's door and asked for help. She could not say no.
"I said 'Mr. Travis I'll do whatever you want me to do'. He said 'would you get 100 entries in the parade?' I said 'yes sir I'll do my best," Hardwick said.
The problem is they had three weeks to pull it off. They did it. The parade was a rousing success with 140 entries plus plenty of people left over to line the route to take video. There was a good turnout at the program afterwards, too. Remember, this is tiny Hempstead. So definitely not a bad first effort and hopefully the first of many.
"I hope it will continue, but I don't know." said Winfree.