Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ken Cates was the recipient of the 2019 Nexen Hero Jeep Wrangler as part of the Nexen Hero III Campaign. Cates is the third veteran selected to receive a custom vehicle built by Nexen Tire as part of its commitment to honor the nation’s heroes.

A former Fort Hood soldier and Harker Heights resident was the winner a new Jeep Wrangler with big tires this week.

Nexen Tire America, Inc. announced this week that retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ken Cates, executive director of the Fort Hood Area Habitat Humanity, is the recipient of the 2019 Nexen Hero Jeep Wrangler equipped with 37-inch Nexen off-road tires as part of the Nexen Hero III Campaign.

“My wife actually nominated me,” Cates said Thursday, adding thousands of other veterans were also nominated. He was interviewed on the TV show “Fox & Friends” in New York City on Wednesday, when he learned he won. He said the show is scheduled to air this weekend.

“Cates is the third veteran selected to receive a custom vehicle built by Nexen Tire as part of its commitment to honor the nation’s heroes,” according to a news release from Nexen. “The Nexen Hero III program builds on the success of the last two campaigns which honored a well-deserving veteran.”

Cates military career spans 26 years and started in the Army Reserves at age 18, then he took to the seas by enlisting in the Coast Guard. Cates was a shipboard and land-based electronics technician and served just over four years. He then served another 22 years in the Army, according to the release.

He spent a total of 10 years at Fort Hood, retiring in 2015. His last unit was with Fort Hood’s 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

Cates was deployed during the Iraq War and received several medals throughout his career for exemplary military service. Most notably, Cates was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medals and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

With Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity that serves three counties in the greater Killeen-Temple area, Cates “has helped the organization triple the amount of homes it completes each year, in addition to nine other unique projects centering around repairs and community revitalization,” according to the release. “These changes have positively impacted more than 30 families, but Cates isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Through his vision for the organization, Cates has led the group to a new milestone by completing 26 homes in the veteran community. These homes (in Temple) were built for homeless and disabled veterans, and in addition to more than 48 other projects last year, Cates’ leadership helped the organization impact 150 families.”

Cates said one of his main missions is to create more publicity for Habitat for Humanity,

He said if 10% of the 144,000 employed people in Bell County donated $10 per month for one year, the local Habitat for Humanity would be able to fully fund a project that includes 28 family homes.

He said Habitat is planning to build 28-home projects in both Copperas Cove and Harker Heights, which cost about $1.7 million for each project.

“It’s an honor to be selected as the recipient of the Nexen Hero Jeep Wrangler. I’ve dedicated much of my life to military service, and what Nexen Tire is doing with this vehicle and its campaign is incredibly humbling. It’s an honor for any veteran,” Cates said. “I believe in creating an environment to help those who want to lead and to this day, I still get phone calls from young soldiers seeking advice and I’m happy to help them in any way possible. I couldn’t be more thankful to Nexen Tire and what they are doing for veterans.”

Nexen Tire has extended the deadline for matching donations made to the Purple Heart Foundation. From now until Dec. 31 at midnight, Nexen Tire will continue matching donations made through the webpage up to $30,000.

“Some stories have a silver lining and Ken’s is no exception. We wanted to open the Nexen Hero III campaign to all veterans this year and of the thousands of entries, Ken’s story of perseverance, his 26-year career and his ongoing commitment to his community really stood out to us the most,” John Hagan, executive vice president of sales for Nexen Tire America Inc., said in the release. “Ken continues to help active service members be the best soldiers they can and as the CEO of a local Habitat for Humanity, helps veterans and deserving families find a home. For those reasons and more, we’re honored to name Ken the vehicle recipient of the Nexen Hero III Jeep.”

Donations made to the Purple Heart Foundation during the campaign will be used to help empower veterans on many levels, such as educational scholarships, medical claims and more, according to the release.

To make a donation to the Purple Heart Foundation and for official giveaway rules, please visit

For more information on the Purple Heart Foundation, visit

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