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Joint Veterans Day Observance held yesterday at the American Legion

The Joint Veterans Day Observance was held on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the American Legion Post 281. It was a somber, but yet celebratory event where the Howard-Gardner Post 281 and Anderson-Denny Post 4559 came together to honor the Tyrone veterans who have served and died for our country, along with all veterans, past and present.
Sam Wheland, Commander of the American Legion opened the observance with a welcoming speech, soon followed by the Advancement of Colors by Jim Baughman (American Legion), Charlie Boyd (VFW) and William Moses (American Legion).
Dave Kaup sang the National Anthem and VFW Chaplain, Art Collier gave the invocation. Fred Forsythe of the American Legion began the Pledge to the Flag.
The Placing of the Wreaths ceremony followed, first by the VFW with Alice Ewing, president and Mary Dickson, chaplain, performing the honors. Jean Nein, president and Alvesta Boytim, chaplain, led the wreath ceremony for the American Legion.
The POW/MIA table was set to honor and remember the prisoners of war and those missing in action, with Ladies Auxiliary President Nein and Boytim of the American Legion carrying out the ceremony.
The Placing of the Caps from all the branches of the U.S. military were placed on the POW/MIA table by Willie Martinez (Army), Jack Swiderski (Navy), Steve Sellers (Air Force), Earl Bailey (Marines) and Bob Nein (Coast Guard).
Roger Couch, Commander of the VFW, began the Roll Call of the Deceased for the veterans from Tyrone who lost their lives protecting freedom. Robert Grazier and Steve Sellers read the names of the deceased for the American Legion. Nick Leasure (VFW) was the toller, and the placing of the poppies was conducted by Sally Martinez and Denise Sellers of the Legion, and Alice Ewing for the VFW.
Following the roll call, Kaup sang a fitting musical selection honoring all the veterans, which gracefully led into the introduction of the guest speaker for the Veterans Day ceremony, Richard Searer, who is a WW II veteran and local business owner.
Searer, who was in the 8th Air Force, 2nd Air Division, 458th Bomb Group, began by welcoming all and stating, “I am a member of America’s Greatest Generation…first it is very, very flattering, it also is very, very humbling.”
He was told he would never fly in the Air Force because of a deviated septum, but 35 missions as a nosegunner over occupied France and Germany doing anything to cripple the Nazi War Machine, proved otherwise.
Searer went on saying his missions ended in April of 1945, one month prior to the end of the war in the European Theater. He enrolled in college after being discharged thanks to the G.I. Bill, which he stated he “was eternally grateful for the government doing that.”
Searer spoke of the 42,000,000 who claimed the honor to serve in the military since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The over one million who have lost their lives, and the many more millions who were injured.
“We as Americans can be proud of who we are…we have never subjugated any society…America does not fight wars to gain anything…freedom has a price,” said Searer.
Searer also thanked in his speech the caring citizens who helped restore the “doughboy” statue in Soldiers Park, which he also had a part in the restoration. He thanked the people attending the day’s ceremony and not using the holiday as just another day off to go shopping or get in an extra day of golf.
He ended by asking the people to “please listen and say it while you think it,” before he stated these words:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
After Searer’s moving speech, Charlie Holzer, chaplain of the Legion gave the benediction. Then the honor guard consisting of Nein, Martinez, Swiderski, Moses, John Wilson and Forsythe fired the guns, and Chip Dillon performed the Taps.
Wheland concluded the program and handed out prestigious 50 and 60 year certificates of dedication to the American Legion to LeRoy Haupt and Harry Sickler for 50 years; and for 60 years, John Gorman, Jack Hoover, William Angelo, Frank Batchler, William Carson, Merrill Coady, William Engelman, Harold Kuhn and Carl Ray.