Now Post Commander for Burnet VFW Post 6974, Sgt. Jerry Holt served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army from 1990-97. His time deployed in Korea qualified him as a veteran of foreign war because, he said, “they are still considered at war.” (The 1950s conflict ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty, leaving North and South Korea still engaged in hostilities.) He also served in Germany and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
He and his wife, Sandi, moved to Burnet in 2016.
“I’ve been coming here my whole life,” Holt said of the Highland Lakes. “My grandparents had a place here.”
His wife and family own and operate the Ritzy Texan in Burnet.
As a member of the 82nd Airborne, an elite infantry division specializing in air assault, Holt and his unit dropped into and secured locations in war zones to either bring in people, supplies, and equipment or evacuate civilians.
“We secured landing fields for planes to come in,” he said. “We attacked and cleared.”
Jumping from an airplane into the unknown is only scary if you’re the first in line, he said.
“If you’re not first, you just go down the line and you’re pushed out the door,” he said. “It’s a little scary going out the door, but once your chute opens, it’s fun.”
Serving in the military taught Holt discipline that has helped him in his private life. He currently works from home as a web developer for a company in Alabama.
Holt was most challenged by the physical aspects of serving in the infantry.
“Our job was usually hard,” he said. “You worked long days. You walked a lot and trained a lot in whatever weather happens to be out there. I’ve marched in Germany in three feet of snow and at Fort Hood in 105-degree heat. I think they actually plan training during bad weather.”
He was unable to reenlist when the time came due to medical reasons. Although he was never seriously injured, he developed a degenerative joint disease.
After moving to Burnet, Holt read in the paper one day that the local VFW was in danger of being shut down by state leadership for malfeasance. He and about 20 other veterans showed up at a meeting to elect new officers and keep the post alive. Holt served three years in the appointed position of adjutant. He took over as commander this past July.
“I give it all my free time,” he said of his membership in the VFW. “The best part about being here is being with other people with the same frame of reference as you. You can understand each other.”
Young men and women considering joining the military should “by all means join,” he said. “Everybody can use the discipline,” he continued. “It prepares you for life.”