Hayden says, ‘thank you’ to town’s veterans | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden says, ‘thank you’ to town’s veterans

Hayden veteran Ray Birch listens to fellow veteran Sam Haslem speak to students Thursday in the Hayden High School auditorium. The annual program honors men and women who have served or are serving in the U.S. Air Force
Matt Stensland

Hayden veterans

Hayden residents killed in action

Jack Whitham, Air Force, March 13, 1943

Leonard Cook, Army Air Corps, May 11, 1943

Rito Hernandez, Army, August 1943

Robert Arnold Williams, Oct. 15, 1943

Kenneth Carroll Jr., Marines, July 24, 1944

George Gordon Osborn, Army Air Corps, Sept. 6, 1944

Clovis Floyd Harper, Navy, Nov. 29, 1944

Alonzo Cook, 1945

Theodore F. Sandercook, Navy, 1945

Neil Traylor, flight officer, May 8, 1945

Mark Lawton, Army Reserves, Aug. 29, 2003

Hayden residents currently serving

Curt Armbruster, Navy

Andrew Birch, Navy

Ray Birch, Air Force Reserves

Brett Gabel, Army

Kenneth Henry, Navy

Seth Huntington, Marines

Amy Jay, Navy

Dylan Jay, Navy

Jed May, Navy

Angelo Pascetti, Army

Steven Penick, Army

Amber Suits, Navy

Chris Suits, Navy

Tim Taylor, Army

John Yager, Army

Veterans were treated to lunch after Thursday’s ceremony in Hayden.Matt Stensland

— Bob Hayes said he attends the Hay­­den School District’s Veterans Day program every year.

About 50 community members, a group consisting of military veterans and their families, attended the district’s annual program honoring men and women who have served or are serving in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy on Thursday morning in the Hayden High School auditorium.

Hayes, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, said after the program that the local schools’ salute of veterans is important to him.

“It means they recognize the people who’ve been in the military in this valley,” he said, also mentioning similar programs that took place Thursday in Moffat County, Steamboat Springs and South Routt school districts. “I think it’s the greatest thing in the world.”

The program began with the posting of the colors, and the band, comprising eighth-graders and high school students, played the National Anthem.

The band played “Procession of Heroes” and “God Bless the USA” before Ray Birch, commander of Hayden American Legion Post No. 89, honored veterans from the Korean War. Each year, the program recognizes veterans from a different conflict.

Hayden resident Sam Haslem talked about the enthusiasm for enlisting at that time, in 1950, just five years after World War II ended. Haslem trained as a B-36 bomber pilot, but he wasn’t deployed during the Korean War.

“In this nation at that time, every young man who could fight wanted to join the service,” he said. “Many boys in high school dropped out at 17 and joined the service.”

During the presentation, a slide show with photographs of about 175 local veterans and veterans who are relatives of students and district staff members was played. The slide show honored Hayden residents who were killed in action. It also recognized residents who currently are serving in the military.

The program concluded with the playing of “Taps.”

“That was wonderful. It made me cry,” Hayden resident Carl Med­vesk, who served in the Navy during World War II, said about the presentation of men who lost their lives. “I’m one of the lucky ones. I got home.”

Shannon Valora, media para­­­­­professional at Hayden Secon­­dary Schools, organizes the annual program. She grew up in a military family and said it’s an honor. She added that the preparation also provides education for the students.

“I think it’s very important the kids in our schools understand what Veterans Day is and the significance behind it,” she said.

That message appears to be getting across.

“It’s a sign of respect for them, being able to honor them in this way,” said junior Aubree Has­­kins, who plays clarinet in the band.

Senior Anna Brown, who plays saxophone, said being able to perform for local veterans was important to her.

“I feel honored that we get to play for them on Veterans Day,” she said.

Hayden Secondary Schools Principal Troy Zabel said the program began 20 years ago, when his sixth-grade class started making flags and presented them to veterans. Zabel said the district would continue honoring the dedication and sacrifices of Hayden’s veterans.

“I think it’s super important we recognize that, and we create a situation or opportunity for our kids to recognize that,” he said.

Ron Nereson, a 1967 Hayden High School graduate, served in the Army during Vietnam. He called the program a “huge thank you.”

“I wish I could put it more eloquently, but it’s as simple as that,” he said. “It’s just an honor to be recognized by this school.”

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