Area schools observe Veterans Day in Nov. 9 assemblies

At Bridgeport, Pateros, Brewster and Mansfield

WWII veteran Walt Peckham, with cane, received a standing ovation when introduced by Chuck Borg, right.
“I always had something inside me that wanted to serve my country,” said McFadden “and I watched the old World War II movies with my dad, seeing guys fly cool airplanes around and I thought ‘that’s what I want to do’.”

Bridgeport -- The American Legion color guard representing Columbia Post 97, Brewster and Post 218 in Bridgeport made its first call at Bridgeport High School at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at the first of three school assemblies observing Veterans Day.
Bridgeport did not have to look far to find a qualified guest speaker. Bridgeport native Pat McFadden a former nationally-ranked decathlete who now coaches Mustang varsity football and basketball, entertained the students with stories about his military career as a Navy pilot.
McFadden said that after receiving his engineering degree from the University of Idaho he realized he wanted to do something morel than spend the next 40 years at a desk.
“I always had something inside me that wanted to serve my country,” said McFadden “and I watched the old World War II movies with my dad, seeing guys fly cool airplanes around and I thought ‘that’s what I want to do’.”
McFadden aced the Navy’s aviator exams, completed officers’ candidate school and flight school and was assigned to fly the P-3 Orion spy plane.
“I’ve been intercepted by Russian fighter jets…chased Russian submarines…I’ve got to do a lot of cool things,” McFadden said and told the students what it requires to excel.
“Anything worth doing in this world is hard and you guys need to know that,” said McFadden “but it starts right here with the people supporting you in school.”
McFadden encouraged his listeners to take advantage of all the freedoms and opportunities available to them
“Dream big,” McFadden told the students. “If you shoot for the stars, maybe you’ll land on the moon.”
Pateros rolled out the purple carpet at its 10:30 a.m. veterans assembly. Pateros alumnus Chuck Borg (1956) a former Vietnam Airborne Ranger and U.S. Army Lt. Colonel (retired) was on hand to introduce the 18 veterans in attendance. Included among those was the only World War II veteran Walt Peckham, whose presence brought the audience to a standing ovation.
A creative touch to the event was a small soldier figurine presented to every participant together with a written reminder to “take a soldier home and place it somewhere that will remind you to pray for those who serve our country.”
Patriotic numbers played by the Pateros school band, a fifth-grade presentation with flag folding and a candlelight vigil during the concluding Taps were also part of the morning’s ceremony.
Brewster’s 1 p.m. celebration of band, chorus, and spoken recitals included an address from guest speaker John Kirk, an aircraft mechanic who served in the Air Force active duty and reserve from 1966-2003.
A poignant part of the ceremony was student readings of war correspondence from WWI through Afghanistan including letters from:
• A father to his son serving in WWI to advise that he had a five-day-old daughter “but your dear wife has passed to the other side today.”
• A WWII soldier first telling his parents of his shrapnel injuries that were “really very slight wounds and nothing at all to worry about.”
• A soldier in Vietnam who, after losing both legs below the knees, tries to raise the spirits of his family: “I always feel guilty when I write you guys, because I know how bad you feel, and how well I feel.”
• A soldier in Afghanistan writing to his mother prior to leaving for Bagram to flush out 600 Taliban soldiers from the mountains: “Mom, I’m not afraid to die for something that is right…I just hope that I made you proud.”
In a departure from the recorded Taps normally used, Brewster junior trumpet player Juan Garcia-Salas played live Taps before the colors were retired.
The Columbia River Quilt Guild made a special appearance at the Mansfield High School’s 1:30 p.m. Veterans Day assembly. The Guild presented commemorative quilts to two Mansfield military vets. Also in attendance were some 20 Mansfield veterans who were the guests of honor.
Speaker for the occasion was Physical Education teacher and Athletic Director, Jody Flaget, who served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Flaget addressed the audience on what it means to be a military veteran.


User menu

NCW Media Newspapers