Veterans honored at Seymour Middle School


Seymour Middle School seventh-grader Dianna Munoz read a letter to her father, Orlando Munoz, thanking him for his service in the military.

She was one of seven students who stepped up to the podium during a convocation Nov. 12 to share what Veterans Day means to them.

This was after eighth-grade class President Diego Lara led the crowd-filled gymnasium in the Pledge of Alliance and the eighth-grade band played the National Anthem.

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“This school year, we are having a special Veterans Day program to honor and show love to our veterans,” seventh-grader Brandon Montiel said. “Thank you for your personal sacrifices to keep the freedom for our country.”

Seventh-grader Gabriel Chambers also read a letter to thank the veterans. He was accompanied at the podium by his father, Chad Chambers, and Kathy Kidwell.

Eighth-grade students Madelyn Busby and Trista Ulrey read letters on why they honor the American flag. In their letters, the girls explained the different parts of the flag, what each part symbolizes and why it should be respected and honored.

“I would like to say thank you for all the sacrifices you have made, Uncle Ron,” eighth-grader Carly Kaiser said as she read a letter addressed to her uncle. “The most important thing you fought for is our freedom. I appreciate all you have done for your country.”

Marlo Cornn went on to read a letter written by another student, Ekaterina, who was not able to attend the convocation. Ekaterina’s uncle, Oleg, is a veteran who served for Russia, and her father, David, served for the United States.

The two guest speakers for the program were Col. Mary Devlin and Lt. Max Moore, both retired from the U.S. Marine Corps. They spoke about their past military careers.

Devlin grew up in Terre Haute and graduated from Indiana State University in 1975. She joined the Marine Corps in 1976. After graduating from officer candidate school, she attended The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, in a pilot program that fully integrated women in the training to be rifle platoon commanders.

A field photo of her in camouflage, taken by the late Pulitzer Prize winner Eddie Adams, made magazine covers.

“The picture was a big deal, and I called and told my mom, and she was so proud of me,” Devlin said. “When the magazine cover of me in uniform hit the stands, my mom called and asked why wasn’t it a pretty picture, but that wasn’t the point.”

Devlin was a Marine air weapons and training instructor. Her highest military award is the Legion of Merit. In 2013, the Seattle-based Women of Color honored her as Woman of Courage: Inspiration Builder.

Her last tour of duty was as a Marine Corps liaison officer for eight northwestern states. She retired in 2007.

Devlin said she is enjoying her retirement and the time she now has to spend with her first grandchild.

Moore is the great-uncle of J.B. Royer, principal of Seymour Middle School. Moore grew up in Victoria, Texas, and he signed up for the Marine Corps officer candidate program in July 1967.

“I’m honored to be here today with my fellow veterans,” Moore said. “You don’t really know what it’s like to be a veteran until you’re among veterans and get to swap life stories and war stories.”

Moore recalled when he was 14, he was in a soda shop and was about to buy a cherry soda when he discovered he didn’t have the 25 cents to pay for it. Then the gentleman standing in line behind him told him not to worry, that he would take care of it.

“That man’s name was Charlie Brown, and he was a recruiter,” Moore said. “He just asked that when I turned 18 to remember who had bought me that soda.”

His military career took him to Vietnam, Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Moore retired in 1998 with 28 years of service and more than 5,000 hours of flight time.

“I’m retired now, but it has been a fun ride,” he said. “If I could do it over again, I’d do it twice as fast.”

The school convocation was open to any veterans along with their families who wished to attend.

Ray Newkirk and Edward Hudson, both of Seymour, were in attendance, and both men had the distinction of serving in World War II.

Newkirk served in the U.S. Army from January 1943 to December 1945. He said the community has been very supportive of veterans, and he thinks it is great.

“I served in combat infantry in the Army, and it was an important job,” Newkirk said. “I carried a radio, and I was the communication person for our unit when we had to report our progress or were given orders.”

His wife, Ruth, also was in attendance, and their son, Kurt Newkirk, is a supervisor of the custodial staff at the school, where he has worked for about 29 years.

Hudson was drafted while he was still a student at Seymour High School.

“I was in the Army for two years, and when I first went in, they gave us heavy training because they knew what we would be facing,” he said. “We did a lot of climbing and training in the hills of Alabama. Then they shipped us out.”

Hudson was a rifleman in the infantry and recalls crossing the floating bridge over the Rhine River as he and his group were facing live ammo and being fired on face to face. It was his daughter’s birthday, he said.

“One man was shot in the neck, and it came out the other side, and only God could have saved us in a time like that,” Hudson said. “I was shot through my chest with armored piercing, and I pretended to be dead, but I survived.”

He was in attendance at the Veterans Day convocation with his daughter-in-law, Sharon Hudson, who works as an assistant at the school.

“I thought the program was just wonderful, and I was so proud of the kids, and I loved the music,” Edward said. “Everything they did today was so great, and people congratulated me for my service. I’m proud of the Seymour schools.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Dianna Munoz – Veterans Day letter” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Dear dad,

Thank you for your service. We have been through tough times and fun times, but not many people know what veterans have been through. Listening to your stories of war makes it hard to believe that someone could live or even survive through that.

Not everybody appreciates veterans, but I do. The world needs more people like you and all of your brothers and sisters. So thank you for your service and thank you for coming home because not many have that chance. You are my hero. Happy Veterans Day!


Dianna Munoz

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Gabe Chambers – Veterans Day Letter” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Dear veteran,

My name is Gabe. Many of my peers and I are writing to veterans just like you. We would like to say thank you because if it wasn’t for people like you, then life wouldn’t be the same as it is now. I would like to personally thank the brave people like you who fought for our country. Whether you were in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines or the Coast Guard may be unknown, but you still made a difference.

I want to thank you for your service to this country. I know you went through many hardships that made you the person you are today. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to do many things I am able to do now because many of you brave soldiers were willing to lay down your lives for tons of people you don’t know. We are in debt to people like you for how you and many others have shaped our country into what it is today.

Many thanks,

Gabe Chambers


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