Age not stopping Judsonia man from giving back

By Lisa Burnett Published February 6, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Nick Hillemann

The Freedom Warriors’ newest and also oldest member is Walter McKenzie of Judsonia. At 83, McKenzie, a decorated Korean War veteran, recently joined the membership of the Freedom Warriors Riding Association of Arkansas, proving that one is never too old to serve others, particularly fellow veterans.

The newest and oldest member of the Freedom Warriors Riding Association of Arkansas just wants to give back to other veterans.

At 83, Korean War veteran Walter McKenzie of Judsonia said when an organization similar to the Freedom Warriors helped him last year, he decided to return the favor.

“The Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pleasant Plains, Post 10007, built a ramp for me when I was having problems with my legs,” McKenzie said. “I just got into helping them and doing things.”

The Freedom Warriors Riding Association provides awareness and informational assistance and works with veterans, their families and other veteran organizations to meet the needs of veterans.

According to the Searcy.com website, the Freedom Warriors Riding Association is not a motorcycle club, though several members of the club do ride motorcycles. Service to veterans is the main focus of the club.

McKenzie entered the service in June 1948, and he got out on April 12, 1952, he said.

McKenzie said the VFW and the Freedom Warriors assist veterans in going to doctor’s appointments and attending events in cities like Little Rock and North Little Rock.

“I just like to help out and do things. What time I’ve got left, I might as well donate it to helping veterans and helping other people — not so much moneywise, but I just do whatever I can,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said even though he just joined the Freedom Warriors in December, he’s enjoyed his time with the organization.

“I would have joined sooner [if it weren’t] for the weather,” McKenzie said. “I like it pretty well so far.”

McKenzie said he has helped out fellow veterans through his involvement with both the VFW and the Freedom Riders.

“Not too long ago, [there was] a Prisoners of War gathering in North Little Rock, and there’s a veteran in our 63 Disabled Veterans Chapter who lives in Possum Grape and is a Korean War veteran,” McKenzie said. “He spent a little over three years as a prisoner of war over there.”

McKenzie took his friend to the meeting in North Little Rock.

“He wasn’t even signed up to be a veteran in this state,” McKenzie said. “Things like that are what I like to do to help.”

He said the Freedom Warriors meet at 2 pm. the second Sunday of every month at the Lightle Center in Searcy.

“It makes me feel good that I can give back somewhat in my life now,” he said.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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