BEND AREA — Two Bend Area veterans were given special recognition Monday evening when the Smith-Capehart American Legion Post 140 of New Haven, W.Va. and the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 of Mason, W.Va. held their annual joint Veterans Day service.
U.S. Air Force Veteran Eugene Fields and U.S. Army Veteran Richard Carl Harmon, both of the Korean War era, received American Flags encased in special wooden displays, provided by the Town of New Haven. The flags were presented by Kenneth Vickers of American Legion Post 140 to Harmon and Pat Fields, who accepted on behalf of his father.
Fields served in the Air Force from 1947 through 1967, and was a technical sergeant. He entered the service when the Army Air Corps became the U.S. Air Force. Fields completed assignments to Korea, France, Germany, Okinawa, and a year-long assignment to a remote radar site on the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. He was also in the group that became the first non-stop transatlantic flight to carry more than 100 service members in November 1949 aboard the C-74 Globe Master airplane.
Harmon was a corporal in the Army, entering the service on April 16, 1953, and being released on April 15, 1955. He was assigned to the 106th Tank Battalion. Harmon received orders to deploy to Korea, but due to the war coming to an end, the deployment was cancelled.
The service began with prayer by Kelsyn Spencer, and ended with prayer by Brynn Owens. Both are students in the Wahama High School public speaking class. The ceremony was led by Legion Post Commander Larry Burns, and Carl Sayre played “Taps.”
V.F.W. Post Commander Ray Varian presented the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action table ceremony, and Kenneth Vickers served as speaker. Vickers told of the history of Veterans Day, saying it began in 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day to remind Americans of the tragedies of war. In 1954, Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans, he added.
Vickers said not all veterans have the distinction of being heroes, but all have sacrificed in many ways during their service, often keeping those sacrifices to themselves. He closed by quoting Father Dennis Edward O’Brien of the U.S. Marine Corps:
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.