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Veterans honored at annual dinner

Members of the Marlinton Woman’s Club served dinner to guests at the annual Veterans Day Dinner November 11 at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Above, Laura Dean Bennett serves Arbovale resident and World War II Veteran Harold Crist. S. Stewart photo
Members of the Marlinton Woman’s Club served dinner to guests at the annual Veterans Day Dinner November 11 at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Above, Laura Dean Bennett serves Arbovale resident and World War II Veteran Harold Crist. S. Stewart photo

November 11, 1918 – Armistice Day. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiegne, France, to signify the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of the war.

The day began as a recognition of a cease fire and continues today as a celebration of the men and women who have served their countries and are proudly regarded as Veterans.

This year, local veterans were honored at a dinner at the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton. The program was presented by Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps Commander Rick Wooddell, Retired, United States Air Force.

“On behalf of American Legion Post 50 Commander Kenneth Sharp, American Legion Post 117 Commander Hugh Gieger, VFW Post 4595 Commander Geoff Hamill, VVA Post 1100 President Norris Long and DAV Chapter 35 President Kenneth Sharp, I’d like to thank everybody for coming today,” Wooddell said.

“Veterans Day is set aside to remember every man and woman who has taken up arms to defend our country. We honor every soldier, sailor, airman, marine 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 our behalf.”

An estimated 25 million military veterans reside in a grateful nation – a nation that continues to honor veterans, whether they served in World War II or Afghanistan.

“Our veterans are drawn from several generations and many backgrounds,” Wooddell said. “There are Americans who remember the swift conflict of the Persian Gulf War, the long Cold Vigil War, the heat of Vietnam and the bitter cold of Korea. There are veterans in their eighties who served under MacArthur and Eisenhower, and saved the liberty of the world, and are still with us in the year 2014.”

Veterans of current wars have returned from desolate deserts and mountainous terrain after fighting the War on Terror.

“Some of our veterans are young men and women with recent memories of battle in mountains and in deserts,” Wooddell said. “In Afghanistan and Iraq, these brave Americans have helped sweep away a vicious tyranny allied with terror and prepared the way for hopefully free people to elect their own leaders. These men and women have fought ruthless enemies of America and are trying to settle these countries free from tyrants all over the world.

“All of us who have served in these causes are liberators in the best traditions of America,” he continued. “The military’s actions have made our nation safer in a world full of new dangers. Their actions have also upheld the ideals of America’s founding which defines us still. Our nation values freedom – not just for ourselves – but for all.”

Wooddell, on behalf of the Honor Corps, presented several awards to community members and veterans who continue to support the efforts of organizations focused on serving county veterans.

“All of these awards say ‘for your continuous support of the Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps. Your donations of service at our functions is one of the greatest assets to our organizations. Your devotion to assisting our veterans and organizations in Pocahontas County is greatly appreciated and noticed by all,” Wooddell said reading a certificate.

Jay Kniceley and Joel Callison were recognized for their dedication to the veterans of Pocahontas County. Honor Corps Senior Vice-Commander Harlan Whiting and Junior Vice-Commander John McCollum were recognized for their continued hard work as members of the organization.

Ethan Arbogast, a newly enlisted member of the United States Navy, was presented a letter of appreciation for his courage and patriotism as an enlistee.

Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department employees Drema Sharp and Corey Rose received letters of appreciation as supporters of local law enforcement.

“The law enforcement letter of appreciation is presented for your involvement in and support of all community organizations within Pocahontas County and your behind the scenes administrative support for the Sheriff’s Department, your commitment in service in helping to provide a safe environment for our families during all public events,” Wooddell read from the letter.

Pocahontas Memorial Hospital executive director Barbara Lay was given a letter of appreciation for her assistance to veterans with billing and other programs at the hospital.

Wooddell presented two letters to the employees of Dominion Gas Bath County Pump Storage for their support of the Pocahontas County High School Color Guard and the Honors Corps.

Wooddell presented two special awards from the office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to two active veterans in the community – Amy Brust and Harvey Galford – for their participation in the Governor’s Flag Education Program. Brust also received a letter of appreciation from the Honor Corps.

After the presentations, Barry Sharp and John Lamb explained a new program that will soon be available to county veterans.

“When I retired in ‘95, we always had a need for veterans services to take our veterans to the hospital,” Sharp said. “That is getting ready to become a reality. Me and John have been going through training for the last four or five months… and after driver’s training, Pocahontas County will have a DAV van. This service will be for veterans who can’t provide the service for themselves.”

Lamb explained that Pocahontas County will be treated as a pilot program to see if the program can work in rural areas.

“Our basic function is to show that this thing works, providing healthcare for the veterans that so deserve it,” he said. “Furthermore, this can prove to be a pilot program for the United States because there are a lot of rural communities out here that are in similar situations that we’re in, and if we can show this works here, we can prove it works everywhere else.”

Along with Sharp, Lamb said there are several other volunteers who are interested in taking the training to become drivers for the program.

At the end of the program, leaders of county veterans organizations explained their goals and welcomed new members.

“I am the president of the Pocahontas County Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1100,” Norris Long said. “The chapter was formed in remembrance and honoring of the veterans who died during the Vietnam War. There are many of you who are not aware that Pocahontas County, along with Webster County had the highest per capita death rate in Vietnam. We honor those individuals who sacrificed their lives.”

Long said membership is open to any honorably discharged veteran who served during 1965 through 1975. Their service does not have to have been in Vietnam to be a member. There is also an associate membership open to individuals who want to serve in the VVA.

Those interested are invited to “give me a holler where ever you can find me,” Long said.

Harvey Galford, a lifetime member of the VFW 4595, adjutant of American Legion Post 50 and adjutant for Disabled American Veterans, invited veterans to attend Post 50 meetings, which are held at the American Legion Hall in Marlinton.

Wooddell, representing American Legion Post 117 of Durbin, also invited interested veterans to attend or join the organization.

VFW Post 4595 Commander Geoff Hamill, with the assistance of Lexi Price, announced the winner of the rifle drawing, benefiting the Post. Darrell Paugh, of Elkins, won the Savage hunting rifle with scope.

The event was sponsored by Dominion Gas Bath County Pump Storage, Frontier Communications, Marlinton Woman’s Club, the Greenbrier Grille and Lodge, Pocahontas IGA, Pocahontas County Opera House Foundation and the Pocahontas County Family Resource Network.

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