OAKALLA — It might seem unusual that the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Military Affairs Committee catfish fry on the west side of Copperas Cove each year.

But for Fort Hood’s senior leaders, the serene ranch belonging to Heights attorney Ted Smith is a welcome getaway to decompress with the friendly neighbors from the community on the east side of Killeen.

The annual fish fry has been at the ranch for several years, and Randy Sutton, MAC chairman, has been at the helm.

“We think it’s important to take care of our soldiers and military families and treat them to something away from work where they can enjoy life,” Sutton said as he scooped catfish from the fryer.

Sutton serves as the cook each year and seemed to enjoy going from table to table offering “hot catfish.”

The event was sponsored by the Ted Smith Law Firm, First State Bank Central Texas and Isdale Chiropractic. For Smith, opening his home for this event and a variety of other MAC functions throughout the year is an easy decision.

“We love soldiers and we love the Army,” said Smith, who served in the Army 40 years ago as a judge advocate general officer. “My love for soldiers remains strong. I liked helping the guys back then and I still do that. These are our people.”

Smith also hosts family day for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment to which Harker Heights is the community partner, and the annual fall festival where 1,600 people converge on the ranch.

Smith is not alone in his support of Fort Hood’s fighting force.

Susan Goodwill of First State Bank Central Texas, which is a founding sponsor of the catfish fry, said her company’s involvement is a tribute to those who protect the freedoms we enjoy daily.

“I don’t think (the bank does it) to try to get additional business. We do it as a way to say thank you to the soldiers,” she said.

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