MMA offers tribute to veterans
WOODSTOCK – Massanutten Military Academy honored those who served the nation during a Veterans Day tribute on Wednesday morning.
The Gordon D. Bowman Stadium was filled with veterans, current service men and women, and friends and family of veterans.
Jorge Gutierrez, who retired from the U.S. Army as a command sergeant major, was the speaker for this year’s event.
“Veterans are not seeking to be singled out,” he told the crowd, adding that he is thankful that Americans can come together for one day to recognize the service of those who offered their lives to protect the nation.
Along with those in the crowd, Gutierrez recognized those who never made it back after the wars.
“Let us not forget those who never returned,” he said, and remember those who watched “every single bit of news through every point, hoping and praying that all would be all right.”
Among the veterans in the crowd was Jack Turley, a retired Navy commander and veteran who served for 28 years.
“As a veteran, I came back from four tours in Vietnam. I appreciate the American public saluting us,” Turley said.
Turley explained that when he came back from Vietnam, the American public didn’t recognize them and what they had sacrificed for this country. He’s glad that the public is finally able to recognize those who fought in Vietnam through these events.
“The camaraderie of your fellow men has been amazing,” Turley said about coming to these events year after year.
Turley and his wife try to help out fellow veterans as often as possible. He and his wife host 50 to 60 veterans every year. They share their service stories with fellow servicemen, men and women who can relate to their experiences.
“We’re out on the deck telling stories, and sometimes there are stories you don’t want your wife to hear,” he said.
“Sometimes we became animals,” he said.
He explained that his wife would say “I really didn’t know you when we got married,” after hearing some of these stories.
He replied, “These 13 men know me better than you do after 51 years of marriage, because we had to work together.”
He also said he remembers that not everyone who fought was able to come back to loved ones. He said more than 58,000 soldiers died in Vietnam.
“I was one of the lucky ones that came back,” he said.
Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org