The Annual Mason County Chamber of Commerce Civic Awards Banquet is upon us!! Thank you all for your wonderful contribution to the nomination and voting process, I believe everyone will be very pleased with our winners this year, they ALL deserve it for sure! All awards will be presented at the banquet on Thursday, February 23rd at the Mason High School Cafeteria at 6:00 PM- 8:00pm. We will have a patriotic theme this year and we encourage you to wear any military appear, hats, or red white and blue, come prepared to be moved by testimony of Wounded warriors and the two men that made it ALL possible, Mason’s own Steve Toone and Stanley McGowen. Tickets are $15.00 and are available at the Mason National Bank, Mason Feed Store here at the Chamber office and at the door of the event. We would appreciate it if you could buy your tickets in advance if possible. Please bring the entire family out and join the fun!! Stanley S. McGowen grew up in Baird, Texas and spent over twenty-one years in the U.S. Army. After graduating from Tarleton State College in 1969, he served with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in South Vietnam as well as tours of duty in Panama, Germany, Alaska, and the lower 48" states. McGowen’s awards include the Combat Infantry Badge, Master Army Aviator Badge, Ranger Tab, and Parachute and Air Assault Badges, along with such valorous awards as the Distinguished Flying Cross and Soldier’s Medal. He has over 5,000 hours flying a variety of helicopters and 1,000 hours of fixed wing time. In addition to service in Infantry and Aviation, Dr. McGowen spent several years as a Military Intelligence officer, concentrating on Middle Eastern conflicts. After losing his eyesight in an airplane crash in 1990, McGowen returned to collegiate life where he earned a MA and PhD in American history from Texas Christian University. During his ten-year term as a professor McGowen published three books, including the award-winning, Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke: The First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War, The Helicopter: Essential to Modern Warfare; and You Ain’t Gonna Believe This But . . . : A Different Side of Vietnam. He also published over thirty articles in the historical genre before shifting his focus to outdoor activities. As a volunteer for several Veterans organizations, MCGowen organized programs which allowed over 400 injured Veterans and family members to participate in hunting and other outdoor activities, including the Wounded Warrior program right here in Mason County. Recently Dr. McGowen was instrumental in the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) initiating legislation which permits legally blind hunters to utilize laser sights to hunt game animals in Texas, greatly enhancing visually impaired hunters’ chances of success. Steve Toone is married to his beautiful wife Karen, formerly Karen Mutschink of Mason for 40 years. He has four children, Leslie Cope of Mason, Melissa Kothmann, of Fredericksburg, Megan Toone of Austin and Logan Toone of Mason. He was raised in East Texas and graduated from Van high school in 1966, received a regular Army Commission from Texas A&M university in 1970 and served 22 years with the US Army retiring with the rank of Lt. Colonel. He was a senor Army Aviator with over two thousand flight hours. In 1976 he was one of four Aviators chosen to fly and test the Apache AH-64 helicopter. His assignments included two tours in Korea and one with the US Navy, he has three awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, two Army Commendation Medals and one Armed forces Expedition Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Parachute Badge. This year alone the program has grown to over 40 veterans hunting on nearly five thousand acres of land and twenty acres of land. Steve is moved by the support that has come from Mason County. We are very excited about honoring our 2011 State Football team and coach Kade Burns, the Chamber would love to show our appreciation to Mason ISD, The Mason Puncher Football Team and Kade Burns for their hard work and dedication in making the State Championship possible and bringing this community even closer.