The Eastern Wayne High (EWH) Air Force JROTC honored military veterans with a special Veterans Day event. On Thursday, cadets led a school assembly to help educate hundreds of students and guests about the significance of Veterans Days, while at the same time paying special recognition to men and women in attendance for their contributions and service in the United States military.The guest speaker for the event was retired United States Air Force Colonel Norman McDaniel, who was a Prisoner of War (POW) in North Vietnam for over six and a half years during the Vietnam War. Col McDaniel shared with students his experiences growing up, working his way through college, and spending time in the military. He spoke about his time as a POW and the challenges of returning home to his family after being released as a POW. He also challenged students to think about their own lives and to make good decisions with the moments they have. While a Prisoner of War, Retired Colonel McDaniel was promoted to the rank of Major and was awarded the Air Force Silver Star for valor and leadership while in the POW Camps. His Military honors include the Silver Star for Valor, three Legions of Merit, Bronze Star with Valor, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Purple Heart, and Vietnam Service Medal with Fourteen Bronze Stars. Cadet Colonel Shamiyah Britt, Group Commander of the EWH Air Force Junior ROTC program, thanked Retired Col McDaniel for his service and sacrifice. “This year marks the 50th anniversary of freedom as Col McDaniel and 590 other POWs were finally released in 1973 as part of Operation Homecoming,” stated Britt. “Col McDaniel, you are an inspiration to us all. Thank you for your service and all the sacrifices you and your family made. Words can’t express our heartfelt gratitude and admiration.” Following the guest speaker, the Armed Services Medley was played to recognize veterans from each branch of the United States military. Cadets, with the support of the unit’s Saber Team, then individually recognized military veterans who work at the school and at the district-level, as well as other invited guests. Cadet Senior Master Sergeant Luis Murrillo led the final presentation, which was a special “Table for the Missing Soldier” presentation to bring honor to fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service members. Cadet Col Britt closed the ceremony by giving one final word of thanks to veterans, current service members, and students who are planning to join the military. She also noted the importance of continuing such recognition activities to ensure the service and sacrifice of those who honorably served in the military and answered the Nation’s call are never forgotten. “The baton must be continually passed if we are to win the race and preserve the freedom we so much enjoy each and every day,” added Britt.
EWH Air Force JROTC instructors are Lt Col (Ret.) Jesse Smith and MSgt Lucius Turner.