CBS7′s Salute to Service: Reflections on 19 years of Show of Support

In Mary Kate Hamilton’s 2023 Veteran’s Day Special, Terry and Paula Johnson reflect on 19 years of Show of Support
In Mary Kate Hamilton’s 2023 Veteran’s Day Special, Terry and Paula Johnson reflect on 19 years of Show of Support
Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 3:40 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Nineteen years taking wounded veterans on a hunt. Treating military wives to a once-in-a-lifetime weekend. Creating lifelong friendships. Bringing spouses together.

Midland County Judge Terry Johnson started Show of Support in 2004 as just that, a way to show his support for wounded veterans.

“We didn’t intend anything about Show of Support. We took two guys hunting, so I could say thanks for what they did. I never intended to do it again,” Judge Johnson said.

Midland characteristically jumped right on board, and Show of Support grew to unimaginable heights.

“People say ‘how do you do this?’ I live in Midland, and Midland comes to the table. You really don’t ask, you just let people see what you’re doing. Then they come and they support it, and they have a piece to offer,” Johnson said.

Now, 19 years, dozens of hunts, and hundreds of veterans later, Show of Support won’t quite look the same. Johnson can barely talk about it, for the magnitude.

“I think the nail in the cross for me,” Johnson said through tears. “The first guy I took was injured in the War on Terror. Damn, I hoped you wouldn’t ask me this. The last guy I selected last year was the last guy injured. I looked at my wife and I said ‘I think God’s telling us to wrap this up on a high.”

After all these years, it’s the little things that are remembered, like the letters the husbands leave for their wives before heading to the Ranch.

“She picked up the letter, and she read the first sentence, and she broke. She heard his voice saying those words. And those words came from her heart. And it changed her. The hard that was there, became soft,” Paula Johnson said.

A little thing like a letter turns into a big thing, after a train accident took four Show of Support participants’ lives.

“The letters mean so much to the women. We had the train crash and four women got their letter. But their husband wasn’t there. It’s called a trunk letter. When a husband goes off to war, the guy writes a letter. And if he gets killed his buddy makes sure his wife gets it. Well, I was the one that made sure they got these letters,” Johnson said.

Midland’s support was all the more important after that accident, too. Wounded veterans still needed Show of Support.

“Midland Texas, the Permian Basin came together in a very strong way to support me and my family, the Show of Support family.”

So, you may ask: Why does this mean so much to a business owner and County Judge, Terry Johnson?

“‘I didn’t want my grandchildren to look at me and say Dad why didn’t you do anything?’ That hit me in the gut. Because I didn’t do anything. So I vowed to do what I did with Show of Support for not doing what I didn’t do before,” Johnson said.

This Veteran’s Day, it’s a message we all could hear.

“It is the most rewarding thing you can ever do to just help one person and make a change. These men who signed on the dotted line, they certainly gave their lives for protecting ours. We can sign on the dotted line to show them a little bit of appreciation for the fact that they did that,” Paula Johnson said.