Alonzo Senior is veteran who has been in the military for more than 35 years. His career began in 1966 when he joined the U.S. Air Force.

What You Need To Know

  • Alonzo Senior served in the armed forces for over 35 years

  • When he returned from Vietnam, he says there were protests and not celebrations

  • Now his great-niece is part of an organization giving back to veterans

"Then I joined the Air National Guard, then I was a reservist until 1981. Then I went back on active duty and I retired in 2004,” Senior said.

Senior says there were not many Black people in the Air Force when he joined and that he received chilly reception when he returned from Vietnam.

"Well there was no celebration, there were all kinds of protests and what have you,” Senior said. “Even when veterans were overseas and when we got back, we got the brunt of it.”

But later in Senior’s career he would meet the people who paved the way for Black Americans to be in the service, particularly the Air Force: The Tuskegee Airmen.

“I don’t care if it's the Air Force, the Army, the Marine Corps, they’re the ones who set the pace,” he said.

Now Senior is the one being celebrated and honored.

"I’m thrilled that this organization honors veterans and I’m even more thrilled that my niece is a part of it," he said.

At 7years old, Senior’s great-niece Amerie is a member of a youth group called PGR: Poised Gifted and Ready, and each year they hold a free breakfast to honor veterans.

While Amerie is too young to serve in the military, she’s not too young to serve those who have.

"He fought for me to be here," she said.

"You know your dad will do anything to protect you and [for] a man and a woman who don’t even know you does the same thing. What would you say to them?" said Debra McClendon, the group’s founder.