Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Crossroads has amazing connections
Over the past year, people with connections to the Crossroads have started popping up all over TV. Eric Zapata, a Victoria native, has competed in two season of the SyFy show "Face Off." Noel Wells, the salutatorian of Memorial High School's class of 2005, became one of the newest members of the "Saturday Night Live" cast in September. James Nelson, another Victoria native, competed on the cooking show "MasterChef;" and now Preston Pohl, of Hallettsville, and Tamara Chauniece Williams, of Wharton, are both battling for the top spot in the current season of "The Voice."
These are just the most recent Crossroads natives to make a splash. The Crossroads has seen many talented people move up in the world, and we are proud to say that they began their journey to fame here.
Several entertainers have connections to our area. WWE wrestler and actor "Stone Cold" Steve Austin grew up in Edna. Matt Prokop, a Victoria native, moved to Los Angeles when he was in high school and ended up getting a role in Disney's "High School Musical 3" movie.
But the Crossroads has seen more than entertainers rise to fame. Plenty of professional athletes got their start playing for area teams. A few are Jerheme Urban, a Victoria native and NFL wide receiver; Kevin Kolb, an NFL quarterback who is also from Victoria; Fred Hansen, a pole vaulter born in Cuero who took home the gold medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Nolan Ryan, the Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, was born in Refugio; and Obert Logan, an NFL safety for the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, was born in Yoakum. The Crossroads is connected to dozens of professional athletes of all kinds.
The talent found in our area is not just limited to show business and professional sports. Some world-class business and academic leaders can be found in the Crossroads as well. Frank Bass, who is considered one of the founders of marketing science and developed the Bass Diffusion Model to describe the adoption of new products into a population, was born in Cuero. In Victoria, Jeni Garrett began the Woodhouse Day Spa, which has become a nationwide business. David Zalman, the CEO of Prosperity Bancshares, is a native of El Campo and has served on the El Campo City Council.
On top of all these success stories and many more we do not have room to relate here, a few Crossroads natives have earned fame not through show business, sports or business but by serving their country. Harlon Block, who was born in Yorktown, was one of the six Marines in World War II who raised the flag over Iwo Jima. He was later killed in action on that same island. Master Sgt. Raul (Roy) Perez Benavidez was born in Cuero and spent much of his life in El Campo. He earned the Congressional Medal of Honor during his service in the Vietnam War. Benavidez voluntarily accompanied a helicopter to assist in the extraction of a team in enemy territory under heavy fire. He was wounded multiple times as he coordinated the escape efforts and brought the dead and wounded to the helicopter, as well as securing classified documents. When the helicopter was shot down, he helped the wounded, set up defenses and called in airstrikes and bombardments to keep the enemy at bay as another extraction was brought in. He saved at least eight men.
We are amazed at all of the incredible people who have come from the Crossroads. Our region is blessed to have such talent and bravery tied to our hometowns. Every town has at least one person in their history they hold in high esteem. The Crossroads is fortunate enough to have many stories of success. We applaud all of the men and women who were brave and strong enough to follow their dreams and reached success, and we look forward to seeing the many more success stories to come.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.