Talk about meaningful!
On February 8, the Wayne County High School JROTC LET I students took a very informative and beneficial field trip to the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center at Wilmore, KY. The trip placed students in an environment where they could learn and develop by actively participating in an organized service experience meaningful to them and especially to the veterans at the center.
Upon arrival at the center newly promoted Sergeant Daniel Ward, Sergeant A. J. York, Corporal Sebastian Koger, and Private Hallie Pyles organized the 33 cadets present into squads so they could tour Thomson Hood in small groups. After organizing the cadets, Sergeant Ward greeted their host Michelle Ewing, the activities director for the facility. Ewing gave the cadets a very informative briefing about Thomson-Hood, including how many residents are patients at the facility and the type of service the veterans receive.
Concluding her briefing the cadets then went to the center dining area where they were introduced to a large group of former veterans who were beginning to play bingo as one of their recreational activities for the day. As cadets were paired with veterans from every branch of the armed services, they mutually introduced themselves. The introductions seemed a bit awkward at first, but the cadets and veterans warmed to each other as they discussed the many life experiences the veterans shared with them.
There were veterans from every branch of service. Many who had seen combat experience in WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam and the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the veterans had not experienced combat but were eager to share their service experiences with the cadets or about where and how they grew up.
The cadets also shared their JROTC experiences with the veterans. This sharing of information seemed to open up the conversation and helped the cadets and veterans to relax as they became familiar with each other. One most notable conversation that took place was with Cadets Jeremiah Denney and Cadet Sierra Stacy as they spoke to one of only four women who are residents at Thomson-Hood. She was a former Corporal in the USMC and was 88-years-old. The cadets and former USMC Corporal Rita Ridgway seemed to develop a sincere bond as she shared her experiences about the life of a young woman in the Marine Corps. Conversations between the veterans and cadets continued as the bingo game began.
“It was fun playing bingo with the veterans,” said Cadet Private Hallie Pyles and Cadet Leah Ramsey. Almost in unison, other cadets repeated their quote. After over an hour of playing bingo and sharing a wealth of information, the cadets had to say good-bye to the veterans, but not before Cadet Privates Ruthie Foster, Donovan Bray, and Leah Ramsey posed with the oldest resident at Thomson-Hood, Joe Paris, who is 105-years old and a veteran of WWII. Although unable to see Mr. Paris hears well with a hearing aid and was able to carry on a short conversation with the cadets. He thanked them for coming to visit him and the other veterans.
“The experience we had at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center was a tremendous opportunity for me and I’m sure for my fellow cadets to reflect on the lives of our many veterans and the significant contributions they have made to our country, said Cadet Daniel Ward, as the cadets were departing the center. The veterans they visited were very grateful for the cadets visit and encouraged them to return soon.
The activities director also echoed their thanks and said, “We loved having the JROTC cadets visit the center.”
“Great job cadets we are very proud of you all and the tremendous example you set for Wayne County High School, the JROTC department, your community, and our great country,” said Instructor 1SG George Snyder.
88- year-old Rita Reidgeway and Cadet Jeremiah Denney
Cadet Brett Herbig assisting staff member Jessica Timmons
Cadet Ruthie Foster with Rita Ridgeway
Vietnam veteran and Lance Sherman playing bingo with cards
The cadets thoroughly enjoyed playing cards with all of the residents of the home
Veteran Bobby Hudson with Cadets (l-r) Cameron Garner, Lucas Richardson, and Vincent Lyons
Cadets (l-r) Ruthie Foster, Donovon Bray, and Leah Ramsey with 105-year-old veteran Clarence Paris
There are flags set up in the home representing different branches of the military
The cadets posing with staff including (l-r:) Staff member Pam Warth, Director Michelle Ewing and the Recreation Director Angie Scanlon