The Pocahontas County Opera House was filled to capacity November 11 for the Veterans Day dinner where veterans from the county were honored for their service to the country.
The dinner, hosted by the Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps, was opened by Honor Corps commander Rick Wooddell with greetings and a message. Wooddell was also joined by Honor Corps member Donnie Waybright to perform the POW/MIA ceremony and Bells for the Fallen ceremony.
“It’s a time when we honor every soldier, sailor, marine, airman and coast guardsman who gave some of the best years of their lives to the service of the United States, and stood ready to give life itself on its behalf,” Wooddell said. “More than twenty-five million veterans walk among us and on this day, our nation pauses to remember them all.”
While not all veterans have seen active combat, Wooddell said their service to the country is still equal to those who did. They served knowing that at any time they could be called to combat and they were willing to make the sacrifice to do so.
“For many veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss the births of their children, freeze in sub-zero temperatures, roast in far away deserts, lose limbs and, far too often, lose their lives,” he said. “Their families serve and sacrifice, as well. Military spouses have had to endure career interruptions, frequent changes of address and a disproportionate share of parental responsibilities. The children often had to deal with changes in schools, separation from friends and, hardest of all, the uncertainty of whether mom or dad will live through their next combat tour.”
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, which commemorated the the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – November 11, 1918.
It is a day of remembrance and appreciation, but it is also a day to remember that veterans – who gave so much to the service of their country – need the same service from their grateful nation.
“Veterans Day is not just a day of celebration and remembrance,” Wooddell said. “It is a day of action. It is a day when we must recommit ourselves to the well-being of veterans. All our Veteran organizations have been stalwart champions in this endeavor, advocating for healthcare, education and employment opportunities for those who have served and sacrificed.
“All these organizations continue to remind the public that more than six thousand veterans a year take their own lives,” he continued. “The 9-8-8 crisis line is available to assist anyone who is contemplating such a heartbreaking and tragic outcome. In this era of uncertainty and division, it is our veterans who serve as a unifying force. They come from all walks of life, representing the rich tapestry of our nation. Yet, when they put on the uniform, they become an even greater power – the embodiment of the American spirit.
“Our debt to these heroes can never be repaid, but our gratitude and respect must last forever.”
The Bells for the Fallen ceremony is a time to remember Pocahontas County veterans who passed away since the 2022 Veterans Day dinner. As Wooddell read the names, Waybright struck a brass bell with a hammer.
Three of the veterans remembered received two bells because they were also members of the Honor Corps.
Those remembered were:
Harold Cochran, 77, United States Navy, Vietnam
Raymond Shinaberry, 87, United States Air Force, Korea
Bruce Propst, 85, United States Army, Korea
Larry Dockery, 72, United States Army, Vietnam
Don Morrison, 70, West Virginia National Guard, Vietnam
Allen Chamelin, 88, United States Marine Corps, Korea
Jimmy VanReenan, 78, United States Army, Vietnam
Dwight Diller, 76, United States Navy, Vietnam
Gerald Davis, 78, United States Army, Vietnam
Bob Mann, 82, United States Army, Korea
Buck Carpenter, 85, United States Army, Vietnam
Boyd Wilfong, 90, United States Army, Korea
Debra Galford, 62, United States Army, Desert Storm/Desert Shield
Richard Beverage, 69, United States Marine Corps, Cold War
Steve Adkison, 49, United States Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom
Sydney Jack, 78, United States Air Force, Vietnam
Roger McLaughlin, 68, United States Navy, Vietnam
George Pritchard, 87, United States Army, Korea
Everett Carter, 73, United States Air Force, Cold War
Chuck Langston, 79, United States Air Force, Vietnam, Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps
Thomas VanReenan, 74, United States Air Force, Vietnam, Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps
Harold Crist, 99, United States Navy, World War II, Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps
Wooddell also mentioned that Crist was a founding member of the Honor Corps.
In closing, Wooddell thanked all the organizations and individuals who made the Veterans Day dinner possible. Robin Muscheller has helped for years with organizing the event and recruited Dominion Power and Bath County Pump Storage employees and retirees to volunteer their time to help serve the meal.
The Marlinton Woman’s Club, led by president Debbie Gale, also contributed by decorating the Opera House and serving the meal.
Gale added that, this year, the club was joined by several young ladies from Pocahontas County High School who helped serve, as well. Taylor Arnold, Kirsten Friel, Eden Smith, Ella Markle, Courtney Waugh, Elena Bauserman, Naveah Southern and Ramon Hardy acted as hostesses and greeters for the day.
Also assisting with the dinner were Northern Pocahontas County Community Assistance Incorporated, Pocahontas County Senior Citizens, The Pocahontas County Opera House Foundation, Greenbrier Grille which provided the meal and Jean McClure, who baked cakes for the event.