Veteran says citizens can serve every day
by Dennis Sharkey
Jefferson County North students celebrated Veterans Day by hearing a special message from those who serve.
High school students held a celebration on Friday in Winchester.
Retired Air Force Pararescue officer Darrell Cox, who now teaches band, told JCN students that serving one’s country is something they can do by bettering themselves everday.
“No matter who you are, you can serve your country right here and right now,” Cox told the students. “You don’t have to be in the service to do that.”
Cox told the students that the U.S. military can be a pathway to success if they do choose to serve. He said the training he received is still used in his daily life as a band teacher.
“There’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t use that,” he said.
Pararescue’s primary focus is in the title. Cox said after 17 weeks of Air Force training he was told he could be a military policeman or a cook. Those jobs did not sound appealing and he asked what else was available except for Pararescue. Cox said he didn’t know what he was getting into.
“They’re crazy,” he said.
The training involves a wide array of different aspects including jump school, EMT training, POW training and survival training.
Cox said the motto of Pararescue is “That others may live.” He said his team was so tight that any man was ready to take a bullet to save another.
“I’m not trying to be heroic,” Cox said. “That’s just the way it was. It was ingrained so much in me.”
Military training was not the only resource Cox gained from his experiences. A college education was obtainable for Cox thanks to the GI bill.
Cox encouraged all of the students to set goals. He read a list of rules students should follow in their everyday lives including doing everything with integrity, acting as a leader, serving in any capacity with character and never surrender.
Former Oskaloosa teacher and Kansas Army National Guard Maj. Matthew Twombly also spoke to the students and asked them to think about what serving means to them.
“For those of us who have served the meaning is easy,” Twombly said. “But what does it mean to you?”
Twombly, who is a Highland native, said when he enlisted he had no idea what the meaning of serving was, but rather looked at the military as a way to a future. He now has a better idea.
“Almost 26 years later for some reason I’m still doing this,” Twombly told the students.
Twombly said he really gets a good feeling when former students contact him and share that they have found a career with the military. He said from his experienced perspective, the future is bright for the U.S. military.
“They’re your age right next to me,” he said. “It’s great to look at these kids and to have them serve with you.”
To honor veterans the JCN band played a medley of each branch of the military’s theme song along with the “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the crowd.
There were some individual performances including two poems read by student Cassie Lampen and a solo performance of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by student Ariel Peterson with Mollie Lane as accompanist. Student Kymee Noll played “Taps” on a trumpet to honor veterans who died in action and Austin Noll sang “Amazing Grace.”
History teacher and retired Army veteran Jack Moore narrated the program and read a list of local veterans. Those in attendance stood after the name was read.
Many of the names read were of relatives, friends, and those who have passed on but after the reading that lasted several minutes Moore summed up the day.
“I think we’re well represented here,” he said.
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