A hero slipped from earth today– Granbury legend, the descendant of a Texas legend and National leader–Ken Hendricks. Like his famous ancestor David Crockett, Ken was a leader, but he was a quiet leader. Even in his later years he would walk around a situation, study it, listen to others and then in a very unassuming way, solve the problem. He loved his family, taking so much pride in being a Hendricks as well as a Crockett. A very active member in the Sons of the American Revolution, Sons of the Texas Revolution and Son of a Confederate Veteran, Ken passed down the heritage of freedom. Ken passed away this morning. That gentle smile and steady gaze is no more. But as my husband sobs the news of losing this precious compatriots, the most wonderful thought occurred to me. Guess who Ken is having coffee with this morning?
Generations of Heroes
John Bell Crockett
Kenneth Wayne Hendricks
…and pouring up the coffee for this list of heroes, is Elizabeth.
One of the last conversation I had with Ken involved a scholarship to two young people in the Texas Independence Day Student History Fair. We had a couple of students whose work was excellent but had been placed in the wrong category and both happened to be about David Crockett. Ken looked at all the entries and then quietly sat beside me and ask, “Do you think it would be alright if I give an award?”
Born in Granbury to Raymond W. Hendricks and Gladys Hortense Crockett, Kenneth W. Hendricks, a great-great-grandson of David and Elizabeth Crockett, and his wife, Jesse Weese, continue the generations of service to county and community.
Texans know the heroic service of David Crockett to our country and to the Republic of Texas in its battle against Mexico’s Santa Anna. Crockett and the Tennessee Volunteers delayed Santa Anna while General Sam Houston rallied the Texas freedom fighting forces. Davy Crockett and those other brave men at the Alamo chose to give their lives so Texas could be a free democracy. David’s brother, Robert Crockett, served in the Texas Army to end that conflict.
Ashley Crockett served his community on the home-front by establishing the Hood County Tablet, a weekly newspaper reporting and preserving the history of Granbury and the surrounding area. His brother, John Bell Crockett, fought in the Southern cause for states’ rights in the War Between the States.
In 1941 when our nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor, Ken’s father Raymond Hendricks, being too old to serve his country, lied about his age and served anyway.
At an early age Ken worked at his grandfather’s Hood County paper and delivered papers for the Fort Worth Press in the 1930s and at the local drug store (Cherry Drug) during the earlier 1940s.
At the age of sixteen Ken graduated from Granbury High, attended (then) John Tarleton Agricultural College and Texas A&M College until March 1944 when he enlisted in the Army. He trained in Artillery as an L-4 (Piper Cub) A“Grasshopper” spotter plane ground crewman. He served in France and Germany in the 115th Field Artillery with the Third Army and 15th Army in the Rhine Campaign.
After the war he returned to A&M and re-enrolled in the Cadet Corps, achieved his aeronautical engineering degree while serving in the Air Force Reserves. After a short time at Covair in Fort Worth, the Korean conflict took Ken into active duty.
“I entered Air Force flight engineering school where I met a strikingly pretty blonde–Second Lieutenant Flight Nurse, Jessie Weese,” Ken said. His wife, Jessie, like many nurses in that time, literally flew into service without time for training.
“They sent some of us from our home-base on temporary orders flying back and forth between Tokyo and Hawaii. We took care of the bedridden soldiers who were ready to go back home,” Jessie explained. “Ken and I knew each other for three or four months when I left. When I got back we got married and eventually came to Texas.” Jessie served one year service and in the reserves for four years.
Ken was placed on flight status, the first new commissioned flight engineer after World War II. During the Cold War years, 1950-1956, he served in the 7th Bomb Wing as a flight engineer on B-36 combat ready crews based at Carswell Air Base with temporary duty in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the Marshall Islands. As a member of one of the select “featherweight” B-36 crews who flew training missions above 50,000 feet, Ken’s B-36 crew flew missions in the 1954 H-bomb testing in the South Pacific. In 1957 after SAC replaced the B-36 with B-47 and B-52, Captain Hendricks went to the Radar Navigation School and attended the Boeing B-52 Performance Engineer School. In 1957 Kenneth (with Jessie) was assigned to the SAC RB-57 Wing at Turner AFB, Georgia and in Del Rio, Texas with duty as Wing Performance Engineer. From there, Ken went to Japan, then Castle AFB in Merced, California as a B-52 and K-135 performance engineer for SACs Operational Engineering Section where he flew as a B-52 navigator.
The Crockett/Hendricks families have blessed Texas, the US and their fellowmen with their lives, fortune and spirit.