Here at KX News, we’re proud of our armed forces and the veterans that have served our country.
In today’s Veteran Voices, we share the story of an Air Force vet whose dedication to service extended beyond the military.
James Willard Henderson is a military veteran of the Vietnam war. Born in Louisiana, and one of thirteen children, he says much was expected of them, and he dare not disappoint.
“The oldest one went to the Army, came back and told me that I wasn’t Army material. It was too rough and tumble. I went air force,” says CMSgt. Henderson.
June 5th 1957. That’s when Henderson says his life changed forever. Enlisting in the United States Air force in the career field of refrigeration and air conditioning.
“We repaired, we could trouble shoot. And the later years we dealt with solid state electrical,” says CMSgt. Henderson.
Although he wasn’t on the front lines, he says there were things that he saw that training didn’t prepare him for.
“We got hit on in Udorn, Thailand. When I say hit, I mean snipers came in. Plane came in and shot once and crashed landed, and by the grace of God, it didn’t kill me,” says CMSgt. Henderson.
But that wouldn’t be the only shocking thing he would face.
“My first base, I was fired off of my first two jobs. One because I refused to allow my foreman to tell me racial jokes and to degrade me and I was called violent,” says CMSgt. Henderson.
After years of being mistreated, he says the only thing that kept him going was God, and his wife and kids…and those same two things would keep him going when he found out where his last point of station would be, years later.
“I got an assignment at that point…to Minot. I called headquarters and asked them what in the world are you doing to me. Laughs,” says CMSgt. Henderson.
Not knowing anything about the area…he packed up his family, obeyed his orders, and most importantly obeyed God.
“At 11 that day on Sunday, I was in church on base. I knew I came for a military purpose, assignment. But, I also knew that I had a religious function that has to be carried out, because that is why I was assigned here,” says CMSgt. Henderson.
After visiting different churches in the Minot area…he found himself at one on the verge of shutting its doors, and right then and there– he figured out his purpose. 36 years later, he’s still there. He is the pastor of Gospel Tabernacle Church in Minot. Having served his country for 28 years and retiring as a Chief Master Sergeant…he says he is now serving in a different way.
“It meant that I served my country, it meant that it was my way out of poverty and it meant that now, the experience that I had in the military, I can tell other people that are in the congregation that are military…this is how you excel,” says CMSgt. Henderson.
Henderson has been the pastor of the church for 36 years now and is very glad to call Minot home.