Buckeye Valley Middle School students Tuesday morning momentarily put aside the class lesson to warm the hearts of U.S. veterans by letting them know they are appreciated during the school’s annual Veterans Celebration.
Tina Francis, the career-based instruction coordinator, has headed up the school’s celebration every November for the past 13 years. During the celebration, she told the students and veterans in attendance that many of her students have gone on to join the military. She pointed out a couple of students who are in the Army and now work on Humvees.
Francis served eight years as an Army Reservist. During the program, she emphasized that while veterans joined the service from every part of the country, no matter what branch they served in, they all took the same oath “to defend the Constitution against all enemies.”
Ostrander Mayor Larry Crile was one of those honored Tuesday. He said he served in Vietnam as a Green Beret, that he graduated in 1964 with the first Buckeye Valley High School class, and he played on the first Buckeye Valley High School football team.
Crile said it was the first year that several of the local schools were combined to become Buckeye Valley High School. He said it was a struggle to get the football players to work together, but once they did, they beat Delaware Hayes in the school’s first-ever football game.
“We beat them silly,” he said. “When good people come together, they can do great things.”
Crile told the crowd a story about a moment when he served in the Army during the Vietnam War. He said it was his and six other soldiers’ job to protect a small village.
“About midnight, we were surrounded by North Vietnamese,” he said. “We put out a call for help.”
Crile said that a Marine unit “stopped what they were doing,” and the “Navy stopped what they were doing.”
“All came to help protect Americans in trouble,” he said. “The only reason I’m here today is because they came to my aid.”
“When good people come together, they can do great things,” he said again.
Brooklyn Robinson, 10, attended the program with her grandfather, Frank Robinson, who served as an Army medic. She said “it’s cool” that he served in the Army, and she has thought about joining the military herself someday.
Frank Robinson said he didn’t see any combat, because he was stationed in a hospital for burn victims.
“I saw the results of combat as burn patients came in,” he said. “I (now) take care of all the family booboos.”
Richard Doritty, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1960-1964, said he served as a radar operator.
“It wasn’t just radar,” he said. “It was for targeting missiles.”
Earl Redmond, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1958-1962, said he was 17 years old when he enlisted. He said he served as an electronics technician, and the equipment he used was all vacuum tubes at the time.
“Now I’m so old, I’d be obsolete at the job,” he said. “All the equipment is completely different now.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.