Speaking Of Running
 H.E.B. Military Appreciation Week

Austin #14 Drugstore Lead Will Carlson has been with H‐E‐B for 30 years. But as a young man,

he served the United States of America for three years in the Army at the height of the Vietnam



Will in uniform, 1965.

  Will joined the Army to support his country, and started out serving in New Jersey, attending

teletype and crypto repair school. He was then assigned to Fort Lewis Washington for about a


“At Fort Lewis, our company was put on alert and moved through the night to San Francisco to

a ship,” Will remembers. “This was early July 1965, and although it was supposed to be hushhush, we knew where we were headed. FYI…23 days on a troop ship does not classify as a


In August 1965, Will was part of a buildup of 100,000 American troops that landed on the beach

in Vietnam.

  “It was just like in the movies—the landing craft hit and to the beach we went,” Will says. “I was

moved up to the hills and stationed in An Khe. No hotels, just pup tents on the beach.”

Like so many others who served in Vietnam, Will witnessed many horrific events. He watched

150‐200 helicopters heading out to the Battle of la Drang, the bloodiest battle of the war. He

saw the bodies of children and service men killed during this and other battles.

“I still can feel the chills as one woman worked her way to a motionless little body in the street

of the village,” Will remembers. “As she removed the shirt someone put over the child, she

screamed and that's one moment I can never forget.”

  But Will survived his tour of Vietnam and came away with some good memories as well, and a

purpose in life.

At a Vietnam Summit on April 27th in his H‐E‐B Operation Appreciation shirt.

   “I was an E‐4 when I got out and was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal and Expert

Marksman Medal,” Will says. “There were other proud moments as well. In Vietnam, I was the

person folks looked to as a leader—I learned to speak Vietnamese and could communicate with

the people there—so it has carried over into my everyday life as a coach, training and

motivating people. It looks like this is my purpose for being here on this earth.”

  After Will left the Army, he spent 14 years working for K‐Mart. A promotion to Assistant Store

Manager brought him to Texas in 1985, where he encountered H‐E‐B for the first time.

“K‐Mart moved its managers around from state to state a lot but I wanted a stable home for

our children and so I gave H‐E‐B a try instead,” Will says. “My favorite thing about working here

is interacting with the people I see every day. Not every day is a great day for everyone, but

maybe I can change it up a bit with a smile and sometimes a brief conversation.”

  Outside of H‐E‐B, Will relishes his time with his family and is committed to living a fit lifestyle.

“My wife, Gwen, is amazing and has been my biggest supporter and rock,” Will says. “I have

two sons and two daughters—one of my sons is one of the top fitness models in the country!

Without the support of my family, and especially Gwen, I would not have stepped up my

commitment to help others get fit and in some cases change their lives!”

Dedicating his Marine Corp Marathon Finish to his late brother Hal, a Marine, Vietnam Veteran,

and Purple Heart recipient.

Last October, Will ran the Marine Corp Marathon and dedicated his finish to his brother, Hal, a

fellow Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient who passed away last September.

“Hal was a Marine, and was always kidding me for my crazy running of races,” Will says.

Thank you, Will, for your service to our country and our company!

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