Veterans honored at annual dinner

Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps commander Rick Wooddell, at podium, and Honor Corps member Willard Pingley perform the POW/MIA ceremony at the Veterans Day Dinner Wednesday at the Pocahontas County Opera House. The stage was adorned with flags from each branch of the military, the POW/MIA flag, West Virginia Flag and United States Flag. S. Stewart photo
Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps commander Rick Wooddell, at podium, and Honor Corps member Willard Pingley perform the POW/MIA ceremony at the Veterans Day Dinner Wednesday at the Pocahontas County Opera House. The stage was adorned with flags from each branch of the military, the POW/MIA flag, West Virginia Flag and United States Flag. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

The Pocahontas County Opera House was bathed in red, white and blue Wednesday as county residents gathered to honor our veterans.

Veterans and family members enjoyed a day of remembrance and honor for those who served this country as members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps commander Rick Wooddell emceed the event and recognized the sacrifices and dedication of each soldier and his and her family members.

“Veteran’s Day is set aside to remember every man and woman who has taken up arms to defend our country,” Wooddell said. “We honor every soldier, sailor, marine, airman and coast guardsman who gave some of the best years of their lives in the service of the United States, and stood ready to give life itself, on our behalf. Twenty-five million veterans walk among us, and on this day, our nation pauses to remember them all.”

While the day was for Veterans who returned home from overseas conflicts, Wooddell said it is also a day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States, and the family members they left behind.

“During World War II, an organization – the Blue Star Mothers of America – was formed in the United States to provide support for mothers who had sons or daughters in active service in the war,” he said. “The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in a window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the military.

“For those who have borne the ultimate sacrifice, there is another group called the American Gold Star Mothers,” he continued. “This organization was formed in the United States shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. [They also display Service Flags]. The lost love one’s life is represented by a gold star.”

Wooddell recognized a Gold Star Mother who was in attendance at the dinner.

“Today, I would like to recognize Ginny Billiter, a Gold Star mom from Green Bank,” he said. “Ginny lost her son, Staff Sergeant Jess Ault, U.S. Army, to an IED in Iraq in 2008. Ginny, we applaud his service.”

Wooddell also honored the oldest veterans in attendance – four gentlemen who served in World War II. Serving in the Pacific Theater were: Harold Crist, 91, of Arbovale, U.S. Navy; Herman Butcher, 92, of Green Bank, U.S. Navy; Dick Hiner, 89, of Durbin, U.S. Army; and serving in the European Theater, David Sparks, 91, of Marlinton, U.S. Army.

The event was sponsored by Dominion, Bath County Pumped Storage Station, Frontier Communications, the Marlinton Woman’s Club and the Greenbrier Grille and Lodge. Special recognition was given to Marlinton Elementary School students Danielle Yingling and Michelle Yingling and Hillsboro Elementary School student Alison Alderman, who assisted with serving the meal.

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