George D. Keathley ’37
George Keathley enrolled in A&M in 1933 to pursue a degree in Agriculture. He was a member of Troop D, Cavalry in the Corps of Cadets.
Withdrawing from A&M for financial reasons, Keathley worked for the Soil Conservation Service, supervising soil-erosion projects. In 1942, he joined the Army and was assigned to the 338th Infantry Regiment, 85th Division. Keathley was promoted to Staff Sergeant in 1943, and in April 1944 his unit went into action in Italy.
As guide of the First Platoon, Company B, of the Eighty-fifth Infantry Division near Mount Altuzzo, Italy, on September 14, 1944, he was wounded while leading two decimated platoons that had lost all of their officers and noncommissioned officers. Keathley’s platoons were outnumbered and dangerously low on ammunition.Under deadly mortar and small arms fire, Keathley crawled to the casualties, administered first aid, collected their unused ammunition, and distributed it to the remaining members of the platoons. Although mortally wounded in the abdomen he shouted orders and, standing up, continued to inspire his men for fifteen minutes; the rally forced the enemy to withdraw, leaving behind many dead and wounded. Keathley died a few minutes later. Without his indomitable courage and inspired leadership the remnants of three platoons of Company B might well have been annihilated.
Keathley was the third Texas Aggie awarded the Medal of Honor.
Horace S. Carswell, Jr. ’38
Horace Carswell studied agriculture at the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas before transferring to Texas Christian University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and a minor in History.
He enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Forces in 1940, as a flying cadet in Dallas and trained at Tulsa, Okla., and Kelly and Randolph fields in Texas. He instructed at Randolph and Goodfellow fields with a promotion to First Lieutenant in February 1942. After duty as a flight instructor at Davis Monthan Field, Ariz., and Biggs Field, Texas, he was promoted to Captain in December 1942. In January 1943, Carswell was assigned to the 356th Bomb Squadron at Clovis Army Air Field, N.M., where he was promoted to Major in April. He was then transferred to the 302nd Bomb Group at Langley Field, Va., in operations and group command assignments. In April 1944 Carswell was assigned to the 308th Bombardment Group, where he commanded a detachment of B-24 bombers in Liuchow, China.
On the night of 26 October 1944 Carswell was on a one aircraft mission to attack a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea. During the attack, he encountered heavy antiaircraft fire. After two engines were shot out, and the hydraulic system and one gas tank were damaged, Carswell’s crew bailed out. Carswell remained with his aircraft and attempted to save his wounded copilot and another crew member, whose parachute was damaged. All three were killed when the aircraft crashed into a mountain.
Carswell was the fourth Texas Aggie awarded the Medal of Honor.
Thomas W. Fowler ’43
Thomas Fowler graduated from the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Husbandry.
He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army after completing his military training at the Armor Officers Candidate School in Fort Knox, Kentucky. On May 23, 1944, near Carano, Italy, Fowler came upon two disorganized infantry platoons halted in their advance by a minefield. Though a tank officer, Fowler reorganized the men and cleared a route through the minefield, removing the mines one by one with his bare hands. After clearing a path, he returned to the squad and led them through the minefield before scouting out a route for them to continue their advance. He crossed the minefield again to lead the tanks through and directed them to positions to support the infantry. Fowler then went ahead of the infantry to scout and captured several German soldiers.
Detecting a gap in the American advance, he directed the infantry and tanks into position to fill it. The enemy counterattacked with tanks, setting one of Fowler's tanks on fire. Disregarding his own safety, Fowler tended to the wounded tank crew. Fowler and the tank crew were under intense enemy fire for thirty minutes before the German tanks were almost on top of their position. After being forced to withdraw from the tank, he gave first aid to nine soldiers while still under enemy fire. For his actions that day, Fowler was awarded the Medal of Honor. Fowler was killed near Rome in combat by an enemy sniper only eleven days later.
Fowler was the second Texas Aggie awarded the Medal of Honor.
William G. Harrell ’43
William Harrell studied Animal Husbandry at the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas and was a member of Troop C, Cavalry.
In July, 1942, Harrell enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, completing basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. At Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, he was promoted to Corporal. In February 1943, Harrell went overseas with Company A, 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, Fifth Marine Division. The division landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945.
Sergeant Harrell and PFC Andrew Carter held a foxhole on a ridge, some twenty yards forward of the company command post, when Japanese troops infiltrated the lines in the early morning hours of March 3. They shot several of the advancing enemy until Carter’s rifle jammed. While Carter left to obtain another weapon, the assault on Harrell continued.An enemy grenade tore off his left hand and fractured his thigh.
Killing two of the enemy, Harrell then challenged more enemy troops who charged his position, and placed a grenade near his head. Dispatching one man with his pistol, he grasped the grenade with his right hand and, pushing it, saw his remaining assailant destroyed, but his own hand severed in the explosion. By dawn, the enemy had withdrawn leaving twelve dead around the foxhole. His commander later called Harrell’s position the “two-man Alamo.”
Harrell was presented his Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman at the White House on October 5, 1945 and promoted to Staff Sergeant upon his discharge from the Marine Corps in 1946.
Harrell was the seventh Texas Aggie awarded the Medal of Honor.
Lloyd H. Hughes, Jr. ’43
Lloyd “Pete” Hughes studied Petroleum Engineering at the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas, where he was a member of Company G, Infantry.
Hughes enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January 1942 as an Aviation Cadet, earning his pilot’s wings later that year. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1943, he was assigned to the 564th Heavy Bombardment Squadron, 389th Heavy Bombardment Group. Initially sent to Africa, Hughes began his participation in five combat missions in the Italy-Romania area.
During Operation Tidal Wave, 178 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers took off on an 18-hour, 2,400-mile round-trip mission to destroy the largest of the Nazi-held oil refineries at Ploieşti, Romania. Flying through intense anti-aircraft fire, the plane was severely damaged, leaking gas from the bomb bay and left wing tanks.
Instead of attempting a forced landing of his damaged aircraft before reaching the target area, Hughes elected to continue on, rather than jeopardize the success of the mission. He flew into a wall of fire at 30 feet above the ground and dropped his bomb load with precision. After completing his bomb run, his aircraft cartwheeled into the ground. Of the ten-man crew, Hughes and six others were killed on August 1, 1943. Of the survivors, one died of his wounds and two became prisoners of war.
Hughes was the first Texas Aggie awarded the Medal of Honor.
George Linskie ’38
George Linskie studied Mechanical Engineering at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. As a cadet, Linskie was a member of the Aggie Band and the Aggieland Orchestra.
An engineer-in-training for General Motors after leaving college, he was the youngest member of a team that designed and installed the first air conditioning system on a bus. Linskie worked as a mechanical engineer for Frigidaire Air Conditioning Division and Rollins and Forest Consulting Engineers before serving as head of the military projects division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In the latter capacity, he helped install the largest air conditioning system in the country at a Fort Worth bomber plant.
In 1950, after serving as vice president of the Dallas mechanical contracting firm, Farwell Company, he founded the George Linskie Company, Inc. In 1970, the Linskie Company merged with the Sam P. Wallace Company as the Dallas operating division of the world’s largest mechanical contractor, where he served on the board for over 20 years. Linskie was a founding member and past president of the Engineers Club of Dallas, served as a Director on the Board of the State Fair of Texas and served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. He has a love of flying and held an active commercial pilot’s license for over 40 years.
Linskie served on the Boards of the 12th Man Foundation, the Aggie Band Association and the Dallas A&M Club, receiving its Jimmy Williams Distinguished Service Award in 1989. He was awarded the Association of Former Students Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1993.
J. Wayne Stark ’39
J. Wayne Stark received his Bachelor's Degree in History from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. While at A&M, Stark was on the Coastal Artillery Corps Regimental Staff, was Associate Editor of The Battalion, Club Editor of the Longhorn yearbook and was a member of the Ross Volunteers, the Glee Club and the Biology Club. He attended the University of Texas Law School withdrawing to serve as an Army officer in World War II and then working for the Anderson Clayton Corporation, a cotton handling and distribution company.
He returned to campus in 1947 to oversee construction of the Memorial Student Center (MSC) and played a major role in developing such programs as the Opera and Performing Arts Society (OPAS), the Student Conference on National Affairs (SCONA) and the Great Issues and Political Forum programs.
In 1959, Stark, who served as mentor to thousands of young Aggies, became the sponsor for Experiment in International Living, a program enabling students to travel overseas to live and work. In 1980, after 33 years of serving as the MSC director, he retired and was named Director Emeritus and continued to serve the University for a decade as special assistant to the President. He solicited gifts and endowments for Texas A&M and the MSC and increased the number of pieces in the University Art Collections.
Aside from his involvement with Texas A&M, Stark was also actively involved in arts and civic activities in Bryan/College Station and across the state. He was awarded both the Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Distinguished Achievement Award for Individual Student Relationships from The Association of Former Students. The J. Wayne Stark Galleries in the MSC is named in his honor.
Brigadier General Edmond S. Solymosy ’60
General Solymosy, born in Budapest, Hungary, is a naturalized United States citizen. He received Bachelor's and Master’s Degrees in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M. As a cadet, Solymosy was a member of A-Ordnance and was Athletic Officer in Company F-1. He was active in the Aggie Players and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a graduate of the National War College and attended executive development courses at Michigan, Maryland and Harvard Universities.
While in the Army he served two tours in Vietnam and held various command and staff positions in the United States and Germany. His last active duty assignment was Chief of the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation in Athens, Greece.
His military honors include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, The Order of the White Plume, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Parachute Badge, Ranger Tab, and awards for valor in combat from the United States and Vietnam. During the 1990s Solymosy worked in international business and real estate asset management in Houston where he served on the boards of Southern National Bank and the Foundation for Financial Responsibility, and participated in numerous civic organizations. In 1993, he was appointed the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Hungary. Solymosy was the Director of Development for Student Affairs at the Texas A&M Foundation from 2002 until 2006. Currently, he is a director of the MINT National Bank in Kingwood and serves on various councils and as an advisor to student programs at Texas A&M.
Solymosy speaks Hungarian, German, Greek and Vietnamese. He and his wife, Ellen, reside at their home, the Bar O S, in Brazos County, where they raise Boer goats and Palomino Quarter Horses. Their three sons, Texas A&M graduates, were members of the Corps.
L.C. “Chaz” Neely ’62
Chaz Neely received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in Marketing from Texas A&M. As a cadet, Neely was a member of Company A Signal and the San Antonio Hometown Club.
Neely began his career in 1963 with Sinclair Refining Company, later moving to the truck leasing division of Hertz Corporation. He joined Knowlton’s Creamery in 1970, spending 13 years honing his marketing and distribution skills and gaining senior management experience. In 1979, Neely purchased San Antonio Steel Co. (SASCO), a then small firm which bought large quantities of nails and wire from manufacturers for resale to contractor suppliers and lumber yards.
Today, San Antonio Steel Co. has sales in excess of $37 million with 35 employees. SASCO was named one of the Top 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. Magazine and one of the Top 50 Private Companies of San Antonio by the San Antonio Business Journal. Neely was named the Ernst & Young, LLP Entrepreneur of the Year for the Central and South Texas Region in 1997.
He has served as President of the San Antonio A&M Club and is a member of the Chancellor’s Century Council, the Mays Business School Development Council, the One Spirit One Vision Campaign committee and the 12th Man Foundation Board of Trustees. He served on the Boards of Directors for The Association of Former Students and the Mays Business School Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.
The Mays Business School honored Neely with the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2005 and he is an inaugural member of the “Aggie 100,” recognizing the 100 fastest growing Aggie-led businesses in the world. He was also awarded the Association of Former Students Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2006.
Neely and his wife Trisha have three children, Alison ’90, Bradford ’94 and Trey ’97.
Harris J. Pappas ’66
Harris Pappas received his Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from Texas A&M. As a cadet, he was a member of Company F-2, served as junior and senior class Social Secretary, and was Intramural Manager. He was active in SCONA, the Finance Society, and was the Chairman of the Election Committee. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, served in Thailand and Vietnam, and was awarded two Bronze Stars and three Army Commendation Medals.
Pappas is President of Pappas Restaurants, a privately owned company of over 90 restaurants in 7 states. Until 2011, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Luby’s, a cafeteria chain with over 120 locations, and is still involved as a board member. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Oceaneering International.
He credits his success to his father, Jim, and his grandfather, H.D., who came to America from Greece in 1897. Jim and his brothers started Pappas Refrigeration and then later opened The Dot Coffee Shop in 1967, followed by the first Pappas Bar-B-Q. In 1970, Pappas served as general manager of the 3 restaurants the family owned. Today, he has over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry and is involved in operations and new concept development.
He served 10 years on the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System Board and currently is part of the System Quality Committee. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Texas A&M in 2001 and the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Texas A&M Mays College of Business in 1999. He has served on the Texas A&M Foundation’s Development Advisory Committee, the Texas A&M College of Education Development Council, and participated in the Vision 2020 Task Force. Pappas was a 2009 inductee into the University of Houston’s Hilton Hospitality Hall of Honor.
Pappas enjoys spending time with his wife, Vicky Marinos Pappas, their six children, and two grandchildren.
Joseph V. Tortorice ’70
Joseph Tortorice received his Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Texas A&M and his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Lamar University. As a cadet, Tortorice was the Commanding Officer of First Group Staff, a member of Squadron-1, the Ross Volunteers and was active in Town Hall and the American Marketing Association.
Tortorice served two years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force prior to moving to the private sector. While working full-time as an accountant, Tortorice founded Jason’s Deli, opening his first location in Beaumont, Texas in 1976. A true family business, he and his family worked lunches, nights and weekends to develop the business into a successful venture. Three years later, Jason’s Deli became a restaurant chain as Tortorice opened two additional delis in nearby communities.
In 1986, Tortorice and his business partners organized Deli Management, Inc. and two years later, the first franchise opened in Tucson, Arizona. Today, Jason’s Deli has 242 locations in 28 states, employing more than 10,000 people nationwide.
In 2005, Jason’s Deli was one of the first restaurant chains to remove partially hydrogenated oils from their food and preparation processes. Still a family enterprise, daughter Ashley '02 serves as director of customer relations; son Rob '97 serves as Chief Operating Officer and his other son, Jay '95, owns 16 Jason's Deli franchises.
Tortorice has received numerous community and business leadership awards, was named a Mays Business School Outstanding Alumnus in 2002 and received the 2005 Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award presented annually by the Mays Business School's Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship. He is currently Director for MidSouth Bank Corporation.
Otway B. Denny, Jr. ’71
Otway Denny received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Texas A&M and his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Baylor Law School. As a cadet, Denny was a member of Company B-1, the Ross Volunteers and served as Operations Officer on Corps Staff, Chair of the Fish Camp Committee and Social Secretary of the Senior Class. He was also active in the YMCA and served on the MSC Leadership Committee.
Admitted to practice in 1973, he has been a Partner at Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. in Houston, Texas, since 1981, litigating in both state and federal courts. Included in three Who’s Who categories; America, American Law, and International Product Liability Defense Lawyers, he has been selected for ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ and ‘Texas Super Lawyers’ classifications.
Denny is past President of both the Houston Bar Association and the Houston Young Lawyers Association. He also served as past Chairs for the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas, the Board of the Houston Bar Foundation and the Board of Trustees of the Texas Bar Foundation. He is a Fellow in both the American College and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and is an advocate of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Houston and Texas Bar Foundations.
Denny served as the 2012 Chair of the Board of Directors of The Association of Former Students and served as class agent for the Class of ’71 for 20 years. He has been a member of the Corps of Cadets Development Council, the College of Liberal Arts Development Council and the 12th Man Foundation’s Advisory Board. He was named ‘Lawyer of the Year’ by the Texas Aggie Bar Association in 2001.
Van H. Taylor ’71
Van Taylor received his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M and his Masters of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University. As a cadet, Taylor was on Corps Staff as both Sergeant Major and Corps Commander and he was a member of Company F-1, the Ross Volunteers, Who’s Who, Town Hall, SCONA and the Student Engineer Council. In 1971, he was the first recipient of the Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award established by the Brown Foundation.
Commissioned into the U.S. Army, he served on active duty for a training tour and fulfilled his commitment as an officer in the Army Reserve. Taylor’s telecommunications career spanned more than 34 years including operations and engineering assignments throughout Texas, Kansas, Missouri and New Jersey. He served as President and CEO of SBC's research organization, Technology Resources, Inc. and as President of Network Services for the Southwest Region of AT&T.
Taylor was a member of the Texas A&M Research and Infrastructure Committee for Vision 2020, and served as chairman of the Association of Former Students in 2006. He currently serves on the Dwight Look College of Engineering Advisory Council, and on the Board of Trustees of the A&M Foundation. Taylor is a past President of the Arlington A&M Club, as well as a former Muster Chairman for the St. Louis A&M Club. He was honored as a Fish Camp namesake in 2007.
Taylor and his wife, Carole, have established both a President’s Endowed Scholarship and a General Rudder Corps scholarship along with being endowed Century Club donors to the Association of Former Students. They have contributed to the MSC Renovation project and are supporters of Aggie Athletics and members of the 12th Man Ambassador Council. They are proud parents of four daughters who include two Aggies, a teasip and a Tulane Green Wave.
General William M. Fraser III, ’74
General Fraser received his Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Technology from Texas A&M in 1974 and his Master of Science Degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley in 1980. As a cadet, Fraser was the Commanding Officer of Squadron 10 and a member of the Fish Drill Team.
As a distinguished graduate of the Texas A&M University Air Force ROTC program, General Fraser was commissioned into the Air Force in 1974. He is a command pilot with over 4,300 hours in the T-38, T-1, KC-135R, C-21, C-37 and operational assignments in the T-37, B-52, B-1, and B-2 as an instructor pilot and evaluator.
General Fraser has commanded an operations group, two bomb wings and a major command. His staff duties include tours on the Air Staff, Joint Staff, and Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. He has also served as chief of staff for U.S. Strategic Command, as the Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the 34th Vice Chief of Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
General Fraser was previously the Commander, Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va., and Air Component Commander for U.S. Joint Forces Command.
General Fraser currently serves as Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Il. USTRANSCOM is the single manager for global air, land and sea transportation for the Department of Defense, is one of the seven combatant commands and he reports directly to the Secretary of Defense.
He has received over 15 military Awards and Recognitions including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters.
To see a full list of previous Corps Hall of Honor members, click HERE.