John R. Stephenson '55
The Walton Six Editor’s note: This is an abridged version of a note used to open the Wichita Falls, Texas, muster this year.
In September 1951, a group of 18-year-old men met by luck of the draw as freshmen members of the Corps of Cadets. Six of them became the Walton Six.
Our first week at Texas A&M, we were ushered into a small area of Walton Hall, which became our new home. We were made to sit in our undershorts on the bare, cold floor with our backs to the wall and our knees under our chins. A senior cadet told us to look at the man on either side of us and then around the room. We were told to try to remember who we saw, because only one in four of us would graduate from Texas A&M.
As it turned out, five of the Walton Six beat that one-in-four success rate and graduated in four years. Our members were Al Koury ’55, Dr. Martin Burkhead ’55, Bill Manning ’55, Charles C. (C Square) Richie ’55, myself and Tommy Cahall ’55, who never returned to school during our third year.
One could easily say that none of the Walton Six came from highly advantaged beginnings, and indeed we funded our Texas A&M education through various odd jobs. Even so, we later enjoyed successful careers and many accomplishments. Without Texas A&M, there is no way we would be where, who or how we are today.
Al and C Square have since joined the ranks in the great beyond. We three who remain miss them, but it helps to remember that anyone truly loved is never totally lost. We have not totally lost C Square, Al or Tommy, and when we pass, we will not be totally lost, either.
In the great bye-and-bye, we will all muster in the great beyond. We will answer that heavenly roll call with a final hearty, robust, resounding and respectful “HERE” for one another. That is what Aggies, as true friends, do for one another.
It is generations of men and women the likes of Walton Six who are, in fact, the true Spirit of Aggieland.
John R. Stephenson ’55, Col. USAF (Ret.)