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Pflugerville Pflag - 3 Pflugerville veterans receive congressional commendation

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AUSTIN, April 10, 2017 | comments
By Christine Bolaños

Three Pflugerville veterans received the TX-17 Congressional Veteran Commendation during a ceremony Friday at First Baptist Church.

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, who created the honor, was on-hand Friday to present the commendations to Phillip Zendejas, Kenneth Kidd and Jim Wilkinson. Community members nominated each recipient based on their service during and after their military careers.

Zendejas came of age during the 1960s, an era where many youth opposed the Vietnam War. But he said his outlook changed when he was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army.

“While I was living it, I thought, ‘Oh, good grief. How am I going to deal with this?’ ” Zendejas said in an interview. “But I look back and I’d do it all over again. I think every young man and woman should be in the military.”

Zendejas served on active duty from 1968-70 — including six months in Vietnam — and then in the Army Reserve until 1976. He reached E-5 personnel management specialist and earned the National Defense Service and Good Conduct medals.

He has served various roles as a charter member of Kerlin-Lyerly American Legion Post 154, helping grow the Pflugerville-based organization from 15 to more than 100 members in nearly three years. That service garnered him the American Legion Officer and Legionnaire of the Year awards in 2015.

Kidd is a Pflugerville staple, known as much for his civic and military service as he is for his barbecue. He realized his lifelong dream of joining the Air Force, where he graduated as second lieutenant and worked as a target intelligence officer.

He earned Air Force and Joint Services commendation medals, a Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Medal with Bronze Star and several other accolades.

“For me this recognition is special because the community is involved,” Kidd said. “That’s why Pflugerville is one of the top communities in the nation to live in.”

Kidd is involved with First Baptist Church of Pflugerville, Pflugerville Rotary, Greater Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce, American Legion Post 154 and the annual Veterans Days Ceremony planning committee. He is a Pflugerville Republican Club leader, a master scuba diver and instructor, Boy Scout leader and marksmanship instructor.

Fondly called “Captain Kidd,” he remains active in the community despite suffering a stroke in 2014.

Like Kidd, Wilkinson was destined for the military after joining his school’s ROTC program. He went on to become second lieutenant and served with the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam and Army Air Defense Command.

“My whole adult life I always wanted to leave a place better than when I found it,” Wilkinson said. “The community, especially, if I can make it a little bit better, then that’s what I want to do.”

Wilkinson returned to Texas in 1998 to work at Edward Jones Investments and got involved with the Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce where he volunteered for the Special Projects Department, and served as board chairman in 2004. After a one-year stint in Crowley, Texas, he returned to the Pflugerville area and got involved with the Rotary Club, American Legion Post 154 and the Pflugerville Arts Council. He previously served on the Pflugerville Community Development Corporation board.

Flores said he began the tradition of recognizing veterans who continue to serve their communities past their military service in 2012. The awards usually coincide with Veterans Day, but did not this year due to scheduling.

“I don’t pick them,” he told the crowd gathered for the event. “We ask you — their friends and neighbors — to nominate them.”

The three veterans were among 12 others receiving the commendation this year, with others hailing from Caldwell, Bryan, College Station, Milano and Lorena.


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Tags: Veterans

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This week, the House passed several bills to help our veterans and put the VA on a path to permanent success. With Memorial Day approaching, it is fitting that the House works to honor the commitments made to our military men and women.

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This week, the House passed several bills to help our veterans and put the VA on a path to permanent success https://t.co/ribCsoSxn3

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