WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Stone County veteran and advocate William Stroud in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.
Stroud was born in Kahoka, a community in Stone County on March 4, 1941. He learned from an early age the sacrifice of military service when his dad, Willie E. Stroud, was drafted into the Army in 1944. He proudly displays the family picture of a visit to see him at Camp Robinson.
“My grandfather hired a man with a log truck to take us down one Sunday afternoon and spend some time with him. He had guard duty that afternoon but he paid another soldier to take his place so he could spend some time with us. He had an extra cap that he thought I should have on for this picture,” Stroud said.
Stroud’s father was deployed to Belgium in support of Allied efforts at the Battle of Bulge. He arrived on Christmas Eve 1944. Tragically, he was killed in action on January 3, 1945.
“We had a hard life. After my father was killed, my mother was 19-years-old with a 4-year-old,” Stroud said.
Despite the challenges early in his life, he pursued his dreams.
“In high school I always knew that I wanted to join the military and I thought that I wanted to join the Air Force,” Stroud said. “In the Air Force you don’t have to sleep on the ground. You very seldom have to eat cold food, so that’s what I wanted,” he said.
Stroud joined the Air Force in 1960 and completed his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base before being assigned to Dyess Air Force Base. During this time, he had surgery to mend a childhood injury to his hand. “I was very grateful to the military, to the Air Force for taking the time and repairing my hand,” Stroud said.
He received orders for a new assignment at Torrejon Air Base in Madrid, Spain in 1962. The base supported the Strategic Air Command’s B-47s. Stroud’s recent operation prevented him from completing the weapons qualifications for his position as an air policeman, so he assumed a clerk typist role. While in Spain, Stroud traveled around the country and became involved in a missionary Southern Baptist church.
After he was discharged from the military in 1964, Stroud pursued several job opportunities before launching a successful 36-year career in the trucking industry.
He also developed a passion for helping veterans. He attended the dedication of a veterans memorial ceremony to get help folding his dad’s flag in the symbolic tricorn shape. The Honor Guard members presented him with the flag during the ceremony, inspiring his desire to get involved.
“I joined the north Georgia Honor Guard. I become the associate chaplain and I was at every funeral detail that I could possible make,” Stroud said.
Stroud and his wife Katherine moved back to Arkansas in 2010 where he continues to advocate for veterans. He established the Stone County Honor Guard and secured ceremonial rifles for members to carry during parades, military honor funerals and other ceremonies.
Additionally, he has assumed the role of Stone County Veterans Service Officer where he is responsible for helping local veterans and their families with issues involving the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I enjoy the camaraderie of veterans coming to have a cup of coffee. A lot just need someone to talk to,” he said.
“I’m grateful for William Stroud’s service to our nation. His dedication and commitment to ensuring veterans get the help they need and the recognition they deserve is something we can all be proud of. I’m pleased to help capture and preserve his memories,” Boozman said.
Boozman will submit Stroud’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.