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Veterans Day Ceremony Broadcasts Thankfulness

Veterans Day Ceremony Broadcasts Thankfulness

Veterans appreciate the camaraderie, too





Veterans Perfecto Sevilla (left) and Robert Lee Blue (right) served in Vietnam in the Marines but came home to disrespect and criticism. A Veterans Day ceremony like the one at the WFISD Memorial Athletic Complex was a day-brightener for them, they said.




Robert Lee Blue perfectly explained the importance of Veteran’s Day after the Wichita Falls ceremony concluded at Memorial Athletic Complex on Nov. 11.


“When I came back from Vietnam, I was spit on. We were called baby killers,” he said.


But a ceremony like this one rights that wrong, he said.


As part of the last graduating class of Booker T. Washington High School in 1967, he volunteered for the Marines and served eight years, not only in Vietnam but across Asia in Japan, Okinawa and the Philippines.


The public is more responsive and grateful now, he said. “We were laying down our lives” – and such volunteers need to be recognized, not spat on, he said.


The Friday WFISD Veterans Day ceremony took place under sunny skies with temperatures in the low 70s, an ideal backdrop to the solemn ceremony that drew about 50 veterans and JROTC battalions from all three high schools.


Typically, the Veterans Day service proceeds despite whipping winds and chilly temperatures, but not this Friday.


Col. Timothy W. Gillaspie, 82nd Training Wing Vice Commander, thanked not only the veterans but also the Wichita Falls community that serves them.


“I’ve been to 11 duty assignments in 21 years,” he said. “I have yet to find so much community support because so many veterans made their homes here.”


Many young men have given their lives to provide the freedoms we cherish, he said.


“This holiday is dedicated to the cause of world peace,” he said.


Courage is not a thing of the past; it ignites every time a young person volunteers to join America’s military forces – the fewer than 1 percent of 1 percent who serve our country through the armed forces, he said.


Every veteran is a hero, whether he served in the jungles of Vietnam or the deserts of the Gulf War, said Col. Gillaspie. Americans sleep peacefully at night, knowing there are young men and women serving through the military to protect their freedom.


“Without you veterans, there would be no USA as we know it,” he said.


The Sheppard Elementary School choir sang for the crowd.


A Veterans Day ceremony churns up old memories for Chief Warrant Officer Frank DeLuna, a Wichita Falls veteran who attended Friday’s ceremony. He served two tours in Vietnam, then came home to jeers from hippies and flower children, he said.


There were so many protests that when he returned home, the military police kept him and his fellow soldiers inside the airport to protect them.


A ceremony like this one brings out the young people to see the veterans. “I appreciate what they’re doing for us,” he said. “The young men and women will see if they get old enough to join, what to expect.”


Perfecto Sevilla attended the Veterans Day ceremony dressed in his Marine dress blues. He went to Vietnam twice during his four years of military service. “It shows especially the children and teenagers that we are here. Look at what we did. Many made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

A ceremony like this one also provides needed camaraderie among the veterans, too, he said.




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Veteran Perfecto Sevilla (left) and Army veteran Frank DeLuna (right) live in Wichita Falls today. DeLuna served 20 years active duty in the Army, then 22 more years in the Guard, for a total of 42 years of service.


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Colonel Timothy W. Gillaspie, 82nd Training Wing Vice Commander, addresses the veterans. 


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An attentive crowd of veterans listens to the ceremony.