WFAA/Channel 8 is known more for bluster than for blubbering. But while he didn't exactly start sobbing, Hansen got choked up and a little teary-eyed Tuesday night after being surprised on-air with a portrait of his childhood best friend.
The surprise came after a report on McKinney's Colin Kimball. According to the report, Kimball, a Collin County Jail employee and part-time artist, has during the past 10 years re-created portraits of Collin County's casualties of war.
"His work on the Fallen Warriors Portrait Project has placed 54 portraits in the hallways of the Collin County Courthouse," Kevin Reece's report says. "Five more portraits will be installed next month."
Kimball uses a computer stylus to add color to black-and-white photos of fallen heroes, the report says, and researches to add details about the uniform. He was inspired by the loss of a childhood friend who was killed in the Vietnam War.
As the report ends, anchor John McCaa begins talking about how he is a military brat himself and how special the project is. Then chief meteorologist Pete Delkus, often a foil for Hansen's banter (and vice versa) mentions how Hansen had met Kimball before during WFAA'S "Taking a Knee" special that explored -- from both sides of the issue -- pro athletes kneeling during the national anthem.
"You told him about your friend Carroll Meier, who was killed in [Vietnam]," Delkus begins.
"Forty-nine years ago," Hansen interjects.
Delkus then announces that Kimball is in the studio, and as Kimball enters with a portrait of Meir, Hansen immediately becomes choked up, turning away from the camera and becoming tearful.
"Everybody knows that every time we go to a banquet, my wife says, 'You're not going to talk about Carroll Meier, are you?'," Hansen says, pointing at the portrait. "Because this is one of my very, very best friends."
Hansen reiterates that Meier was killed 49 years ago, shot between the eyes shortly after he began service in Vietnam. Co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre, also showing emotion, points out that Monday -- Memorial Day -- will be the 50th anniversary of Meier's death.
There's more to the exchange. Watch it here.
Last fall, Hansen made a reference to Meier in an "Unplugged" segment about the anthem protests.
"My best friend in high school was killed in Vietnam," Hansen said. "Carroll Meier will be 18 years old forever. And he did not die so that you can decide who is a patriot and who loves America more.
"The young, black athletes are not disrespecting America or the military by taking a knee during the anthem," he continued. "They are respecting the best thing about America. It's a dog whistle to the racists among us to say otherwise."
Watch that report below, and below that, watch Reece's full report on Kimball's work. WFAA has a content-sharing agreement with the Star-Telegram.