“We are glad that you honor us and continue to honor us. One thing you never do is dishonor a veteran. You may not agree with the fight, you may not agree with the policies of the current administration or the former administration, but one thing you have done greatly in Moffat County Colorado is honor your veterans, and for that, we thank you.”
— Guy Bradshaw, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post4265 commander, about the treatment veterans receive in Moffat County
Moffat County High School hosted a Veteran’s Day celebration Friday morning, taking the time to honor heroes in the community.
Students demonstrated respect and appreciation for the veterans who attended the well-organized event, including: Guy Bradshaw, current commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Craig, Johnny Garcia, Edward Garcia, Howdy Davis, Jim Meineke, Gaylord Flies, Ray Magness and Leon Meats.
The wars the veterans had served in spanned decades, starting with Flies who served in World War II all the way up to Bradshaw who served in Iraq.
Veterans that attended also served in the Korean and Vietnam War.
Veterans were honored with a moment of silence and several videos. A panel also was assembled for veterans to answer questions about their experiences in the military.
Although they said there were some tough times, none of the veterans said they regretted enlisting.
“I enlisted because I made the mistake of wanting to leave the town I love." Meineke said. "When I got out of the marines alive I swore I would never leave this town."
When asked about a typical day in the life of a G.I., Johnny Garcia said it plain and simple.
“You’ve got a gun in one hand, God on the other side, and prayers everyday that you made it,” Garcia said.
The veterans shared humorous stories, such as the time Flies saw an outhouse blow up because of the gas they dumped in it daily for sanitation.
“It was quite a sight to see,” Flies said.
Howdy Davis had a story about peeling potatoes for days on end.
And they also shared serious stories.
Johnny Garcia spoke about his return home from Vietnam, and some of the dirty things people did to him.
“I was welcomed home by a riot committee," Garcia said. "They hit me with a piss balloon. I don’t know how long the piss was in the balloon but I stunk for a week. Others were called baby killers. I was never told thank you until recently.”
Garcia said Vietnam didn’t have the support of many American people, and the treatment they received as thanks for their service was abominable.
Bradshaw warned students if they chose to enlist, they should be aware of what they’re signing on to.
“You’ll be faced with challenges you never thought possible,” Bradshaw said. “You’ll come home from a tour and your kids don’t recognize you.”
After the panel discussion, students were allowed to ask the veterans questions.
One student asked what it was that kept the vets going during the wars they fought in.
“I’ll probably get in trouble for this,” Bradshaw said. “But trying to kill the other son of a bitch before he kills you. Also, family, love and country.”
During a break after the panel, students approached the vets to thank them for their service to the country.
A slideshow was prepared with names and pictures of Moffat County High School graduates who were either currently enlisted or had served in the military and shown to students as the veterans headed outside for a 21-gun salute.
“We are glad that you honor us and continue to honor us," Bradshaw said. "One thing you never do is dishonor a veteran. You may not agree with the fight, you may not agree with the policies of the current administration or the former administration, but one thing you have done greatly in Moffat County Colorado is honor your veterans, and for that, we thank you.”
As a final comment, Meineke told students to value their country.
“Be grateful that you live in the U.S.A.," Meineke said. "Be proud of it. Never shirk the duties of an American. Stand up for your country and thank God that you do live here."
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org