The Woodward News

August 11, 2013

Oil industry veterans honored at dinner

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Four oil and gas industry leaders who have stood in line for an oilfield snack longer than many have been in the industry were recognized Thursday night at the 2nd annual Bobby Joe Cudd Legacy Award Dinner.

The dinner was an appropriate wrap-up to what has been Tri-State Oil and Gas Convention's second well-played endeavor toward bringing oil and gas professionals together in a way that has never before been attempted here, said dinner attendees.

Friday, the event culminated in the Bobby Joe Cudd Legacy Golf Tournament at Boiling Springs Golf Course.

Golfers got off to a bit of a soggy start Friday morning after more than an inch of rain fell on the newly sodded course, but true to their industry nature, made the best of it.

But there were four who no doubt slept in Friday morning.

Or perhaps they simply took a few extra moments to gaze, over a cup of coffee, at what might be the only true formal recognition they have had after nearly 60 years in the industry - their Bobby Joe Cudd Legacy Award,  a framed, engraved photo of Cudd, the famed industry icon known worldwide for fighting oilfield fires and more.

This years honorees are Red Hickman, Georgeā€ˆArrington, Buster Martin and Gene Cook.

Each of the four have no doubt spent countless hours, their knuckles bared and raw in 30 degree below zero temperatures with an eye toward completion.

And surely, each has witnessed their fair share of swarming pumping units or knows the feel of 10,000 pounds of downhole pressure when it shakes the earth under your feet.

According to Junior Long, TSOGC event chairman, the idea of an oil and gas convention without anchoring it in the spirit of true wildcat lore that indeed was Bobby Joe Cudd, was unthinkable. When Cudd's widow, Renee Cudd, mentioned to Long last year that she wished her late husband could have been alive to enjoy this honor, it gave birth to the Bobby Joe Legacy Award, Long said.

Last year's recipients of the award were Bill Meadows, Don Jeter, J. D. Hodges, and Bob Grace.

"Though our event theme may change from year to year, it is our sincere intention to dedicate TSOGC shows for the foreseeable future to Bobby Joe Cudd," Long said in his remarks to attendees Thursday evening.

Bobby Joe Cudd Legacy Award winners for 2013 are;

Red Hickman--Presented by Donna Murphy--Hickman began his oil patch career With Hinkle Oil Company in 1943. In 1952, he went to work for Stickle/Triad Drilling, were he found his true niche in the industry, Murphy said. In 1975, Hickman founded Hickman Drilling, which survived through at least two industry down turns, keeping employed workers who relied on their jobs with him. Today, the company has been acquired by Unit Drilling and is known as Unit Drilling Hickman Division of Woodward.

George Arrington--Presented by Kurt Hirschler--Arrington was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1933. He attended school in the heart of drilling country, Canadian, Texas, Hirschler said.  He went on to graduate from New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, New Mexico in 1952. He graduated from University of Oklahoma with a degree in business administration with a minor in law.  After graduating, Arrington began work for Cities Service Oil Company while he attended night school at Tulsa University and later Oklahoma City University, Hirschler said. He received his Juris Doctorate Degree in 1966. After 10 years with Cities Service Oil, he entered the oil and gas industry as an independent producer in Canadian, Texas while also managing the family ranch there.

Buster Martin-Presented by Junior Long--Martin was born near Ratliff City, Oklahoma in 1947. He served his country in the military in Korea during the Korean War. One of his proudest moments was when he met a "very special girl" (Joy) at a skating rink is Turner Falls, Long said. She later became his soulmate for years, he said. After serving in various capacities for Noble Drilling of southern Oklahoma for 20 years, he met Nick Nichols, who founded Diamond Construction in Shattuck. He joined Diamond in 1967 and the business began to grow and diversify under Martin's leadership, Long said. Martin has lived in Woodward since 1965, where he and his family remain today. In 1982, Martin became the sole owner of Diamond Construction, shepherding the business through both good times and tough times. His frugal management style paid off and is the foundation that keeps Diamond Construction one of the marquee oilfield businesses even today, Long said.

Gene Cook--Presented by Amber Ashpaugh--Cook earned the respect due someone whose career in the oil industry spanned more than 65 years, Ashpaugh said. Born in Beggs, Oklahoma in 1928, Cook grew up in the oil camps of eastern Oklahoma, where his father worked for Pure Oil Company. "So the oil and gas industry has always been in his blood," Ashpaugh said. Cook graduated from Seminole High School in 1946 and attended the University of Oklahoma. In 1950, Cook began a venture on his own, re-tipping drill bits in the Shawnee-Seminole area. From there, he went on to work for Lane Wells Logging (mud logging) in Lindsay and Liberal, Kansas, before joining Sauder Tank in 1965.

After his time at Sauder Tank, Cook owned and operated several oil field businesses in the Woodward area including United Services and Woodward Sling and Wirerope. "He is one of the only men left in the oil patch who knows the business from spud to burner," Ashpaugh said.

The evening culminated with a deeply moving talk from keynote speaker, Keni Thomas.

Thomas, who served as a Ranger in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, captivated his audience with the tale of, not his own heroics, but the heroics of those team members who were by his side through the protracted battle that saw the loss of many lives.

Drawing from his experience, Thomas illustrated the importance that each member of any team plays.

Thomas painted a picture of his team members that fateful day, Oct. 3rd, 1993. He painted an especially familiar portrait of one character, Pvt. David Floyd.

Floyd was, originally, a member of the team who was struggling to meet the standards of the high speed Ranger squad, Thomas said.

Thomas recalled how he and the others failed to understand how anyone could fail at something that came so easily to them.

While on a training mission early in the team's work together, Floyd failed a road march, Thomas said.

"That's when I realized, it wasn't Floyd who failed, it was us," Thomas said. "We did not take care of our team member and lift him up to that higher standard."

That lesson came back in a serendipitous way when the team, held down in some of the fiercest fighting during the Mogadishu mission, was saved by Floyd's attention to detail and fast thinking, Thomas said.

"He was in charge of no one, but the example he set was exceptional," Thomas said. "He saved my life."

Thomas impressed upon his audience the need in the real world, and certainly the world of the battlefield, for a leader who is willing to hold every member as capable and then hold them to a standard.

"You are only as strong as your weakest link," he said.