Lockhart graduate becomes Army General
Like a scene out of “Friday Night Lights” the 1971 Lockhart Lions were ending a nine-year playoff drought, playing for a Regional Championship after capturing the first District 13AAA District Championship in nine years.
Friends recall Lion wide receiver Gary Bunch slashing through the Uvalde backers. He weaved left and cut right toward a first-down marker undeterred.
Two Uvalde High defenders intent on stopping him laid in disgust. As thousands of the Lockhart faithful cheered at the San Antonio Northside Stadium Coach Roy Dollar drove his boys to one of the best seasons in team history.
Bunch never played a down of football after graduating from Lockhart but continued to set his sights on lofty goals. As a longtime Lockhart resident, Bunch continues to make his hometown proud.
The U.S. Department of Defense recently released the names of a select few Colonels to be promoted to Brigadier General. Harold Gary Bunch, a 1972 LHS graduate, is among those named to become the newest generals of this generation.
The lessons from his family home on West Live Oak Street in Lockhart, the ranch in Dale, the Lockhart gridiron and classrooms at LHS have served him well, and continue to do so.
As a youngster, friends recall Bunch being a leader and tough competitor. He could fall off a horse, run through prickly-pear or roll through a pesky ant pile and never show a pinch of pain.
Friends and family remember how he hated to fail or lose at anything.
“He would study all the angles and try desperately to win,” said more than one.
His goal in later high school years was to get into Texas A & M. As the Second Battalion Sergeant at Arms at A&M, he even helped other cadets study and graduate together in 1976. Twenty eight years later, he even got other graduates together to celebrate the annual A & M “muster” calls in the middle of the Iraqi desert in 2004.
While recently commanding a brigade of 3600 Army, Air Force and Navy fighters in Iraq in the miserable 140-degree heat, he was notorious for his uncanny ability to, in the words of one old grizzled sergeant to, “be dad gum near everywhere.”
Colonel Leroy Ontiberos of Austin commented Bunch is “not a stay behind the wire kind of leader.”
“Bunch was always out front where the troops were,” Ontiberos quipped.
As Deputy for General Bunch in combat, Ontiberos was in a position to see Bunch”s leadership first-hand. He observed him constantly.
“He was always checking on the troops and their conditions,” he said. “I”ll bet he made more combat convoys than any senior leader in Iraq at the time; just to let the soldiers see him out with them.”
As recent news of Bunch”s selection to General Officer spreads through Lockhart, local leaders are especially excited about one of their, “local boys doing good.”
“It”s not everyday that a hometown boy hits the big-time in a national leadership role,” said Justice of the Peace and former Lockhart Mayor M. Louis Cisneros.
Now, Lockhart school, civic and veterans” group leaders are looking for meaningful means to recognize this true hero and native son.
(Courtesy of Jimmie Jaye Wells)