Honoring veterans

Robert Galbreath photo Veterans and active members of the armed forces rise as the colors are presented at the PHS Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Pictured, from left, are Mike Smith, active duty, U.S. Army drone operator, Preslie Mecham, active duty, U.S. Army medic, American Legion Chaplain Randy Belton, U.S. Marines, Gen. Tim Scott, U.S. Air Force, VFW Commander Ted Nelson, U.S. Army, Vietnam War, American Legion Commander Michael Edison, U.S. Army, Mark Reinwald, U.S. Army and Capt. Phil Vrska, U.S. Marines, Iraq and Afghanistan.

PINEDALE – At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, silence descended upon the trenches as warring nations signed an armistice ending World War I.

In the United States, Nov. 11 is set aside to honor veterans that served their country “both in war and in peacetime,” said Michael Edison, American Legion Post No. 47 Commander and U.S. Army veteran.

Edison’s remarks opened the Veterans Day ceremony hosted by Pinedale High School (PHS) in the Sheppard Auditorium on Friday, Nov. 11.

The combined PHS choirs, conducted by Gregory Allen, performed the National Anthem and Chaplain Randy Belton, U.S. Marines, led an invocation.

The PHS Wrangler Chorale sang an arrangement of “God Bless the USA” before the keynote speakers addressed the assembly.

Gen. Tim Scott served in the U.S. Air Force for 27 years. He recalled taking the Oath of Enlistment to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

“I took this oath 42 years ago, and it still rings true today,” Scott said.

The Oath of Enlistment is personified by honor and loyalty, and Scott shared a story about a U.S. Marine wounded in Afghanistan. In spite of his injuries, the young soldier snuck out of the hospital and rejoined his unit in the battlefield.

“I can think of no greater example of loyalty to one’s fellow comrades – honoring the oath that he swore,” Scott said.

Capt. Phil Vrska, U.S. Marines, served a tour of duty in Iraq and multiple tours in Afghanistan during the Global War on Terrorism.

Vrska described his time in the U.S. Marines as a “blessing and honor.” He served beside “some of the bravest and (most) selfless young men and women.”

Vrska recognized veterans, their families and active duty servicemen and women.

“They serve us every day,” he said.

Edison returned to the podium.

“One thing that all veterans share is their love for country and for their fellow man,” he said. “Their opportunity to serve lies behind the idea of being part of something greater than his or herself.”

Edison talked about a U.S. Marine attending to a wounded Iraqi soldier. A news crew called the Marine out for assisting an “enemy” combatant.

“He was wounded,” the Marine responded. “That’s what we do. We’re Americans.”

Edison is “damn proud” to be part of the group of veterans gathered in the auditorium, and thanked them for their “service, loyalty, honor and duty to God, family and country.”

Awards

Windy Noble with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary announced the winners of the Voice of Democracy audio-essay contest. VFW Post No. 4801 Commander Ted Nelson presented the awards.

Junior Brycen Vrska earned first place, senior Kyla Meikle second and senior Ally Moller third.

Edison presented Noble with the American Legion’s Patriot Award for “supporting the mission of the American Legion” and “promoting Americanism among the youth and community.”

The American Legion bestowed Freedom of the Press awards to Pinedale Roundup and Sublette Examiner reporter Joy Ufford and Dawn Ballou of Pinedale Online.

The American Legion’s Veteran’s Support Award went to Pure West Energy. Pure West representative Jasmine Allison received the award on behalf of the company.

Seven PHS students attended the annual Wyoming Boys’ State and Girls’ State conventions the previous summer and spoke about their experiences at the Veterans Day ceremony. Girls’ State delegates included seniors Jaylee Bousman, Maddox Gehlhausen and Ally Moller. Boys’ State delegates were Dillon Boespflug, Cade Covill, Sean Ruckman and Holden Saxton.

The PHS Concert Band, conducted by Justin Smith, played “In Their Honor,” composed by Carl Strommen.

Holden Saxton and Brycen Vrska closed the ceremony with a performance of “Taps” followed by a moment of silence.

Photos from the PHS Veterans Day assembly can be viwed on page A3.

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