Veterans Day Events Hosted Throughout Tigard and King City

Vietnam veteran Jerry Larsen leads people attending the King City veterans’ event in singing the armed forces’ fight songs. Photo: Barbara Sherman

Tigard High School

Tigard High School has a long and proud tradition of honoring local veterans with an all-school assembly right before Veterans Day, and this year’s program was as heartfelt as ever.

Veteran's Day, King City, Tigard
Tigard High School junior Tyler Cordill found his grandpa, U.S. Army veteran Phil Morton, in the crowd following this year’s veterans’ assembly. Photo: Barbara Sherman

Gus Jaramillo, head custodian at THS, led the posting of the colors at the beginning of the program, which he has done for many years.

As part of the event, MCs Tim Hummel and Nicole Barker, both teachers at the school, asked THS students planning to join the military to stand, which many did to rousing applause.

Two choirs sang, and the Wind Ensemble, longtime music teacher Jim Irving’s top auditioned group, played patriotic songs.

The keynote speaker was Col. Vince Dawson, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 25 years, was deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany and the country of Georgia, and is now a sergeant in the Salem Police Department.

“This (assembly) is the gold standard for what students and staff have to offer (veterans),” said Dawson, who joined the military while in college because he wanted a challenge and wanted to lead people.

When college student Dawson went for a job interview, the interviewer saw the USMC sticker on his folder and hired him on the spot, an advantage that has benefited him and contributed to his “life experience” for 25 years.

Veteran's Day, King City, Tigard
Tigard veterans Frank Heyl (left) and Larry McCullough attended the annual THS Veterans’ Assembly.

Speaking to the students, Dawson said, “All you have known since you were born was a country at war… This is your opportunity to decide what life experiences you are going to have. Hopefully, you will remember the lessons from these assemblies.”

He encouraged the students to thank veterans when they meet them and also do community service to benefit their community.

More than 50 veterans attended the event, and perhaps the best part for them every year is when the assembly is over and students flock to shake their hands and thank them for their service as they file out.

King City Civic Association

King City veterans always get the royal treatment with Pomp and Circumstance and music at the King City Civic Association Clubhouse just before Veterans Day.

This year’s event, held Nov. 10, started with “Reveille” played by Dave Nelson, a retired member of the Tualatin Valley Community Band. Members of Tigard Boy Scout Troop 423 then posted the colors followed with an invocation by Billie Reynolds.

Vietnam veteran Jerry Larsen leads people attending the King City veterans’ event in singing the armed forces’ fight songs. Photo: Barbara Sherman

This year Paul Hailey again was MC, and he introduced Mayor Ken Gibson, City Council President Jaimie Fender and state Rep. Courtney Neron, a Wilsonville Democrat who represents District 26, who all made brief remarks.

Jerry Larsen, a Vietnam War veteran, led the audience in singing the Armed Forces fight songs accompanied by Muriel Dresser on the piano.

A big part of the event focused on the Honor Flight Network program, a non-profit organization that sends veterans on four-day trips to Washington, D.C., to visit war memorials, the Capitol and other landmarks.

Bill Gerkin, a member of the King City Lions Club, has been the No. 1 Honor Flight fundraiser by recycling redeemable bottles and cans.

“So far, his efforts have paid for I think about seven veterans to make the trip… ” Hailey said.

Reynolds read the poem “In Flanders Field” before telling the audience a little about three King City veterans who have died in the past year – Frank Passmore, Larry Torrey and Bill Gaskill.

Gerkin said the King City Lions have raised more than $15,000 to send veterans on Honor Flight Network trips and to support the program, people may drop off their cans and bottles at the King City Grocery Outlet, the King City Clubhouse, the King City Lions Club newspaper drop box in the east parking lot of the Bull Mountain Professional Center, and at the Tigard Senior Center.

There are currently 1.6 million WWII veterans alive, but about 1,000 die daily, and WWII veterans are given first priority to go on the all-expenses-paid trips.

People may contribute to the program by mailing checks to Honor Flight, 15685 S.W. 116th Ave., PMB 294, King City 97224-2651.

The King City program, which was sponsored by the King City Friday Bible Study Group and the King City Community Foundation, concluded with Nelson playing “Taps.”

Summerfield

Veterans in the 55-plus Summerfield community were honored by a full contingent of their fellow residents turning out for a Nov. 11 Veterans Day celebration at the Clubhouse.

In the Summerfield Clubhouse, Diane Christensen and Dick Boyle listen to the Summerfield Singers sing the armed forces’ fight songs during the community’s annual event honoring residents. Photo: Barbara Sherman

Master of ceremonies Eldon Tichenor kicked off the program with the presentation of a History Channel program about how Veterans Day came into existence, starting as Armistice Day at the end of World War I, when major hostilities ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to honor those who served in all wars, and today it honors not just those who serve in war but also those who serve in peace.

The Summerfield Singers, led by Julie Helle with Nancy Vink on the piano, led the group through such classics as “America the Beautiful,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Yankee Doodle” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag” before moving on to the military branch songs. As the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force songs were performed, Helle asked those who served in that branch to stand.

The program concluded with “God Bless America.”

Royal Villas

Royal Villas residents celebrate their resident veterans every year with a Veterans Day breakfast, and this year the MC was U.S. Army veteran Tom Wirch, taking over for Air Force veteran Fred Buss, who led the event from 2012-17 and passed away this year.

The Nov. 9 event started with the Posting of the Colors by the Aloha American Legion Post 104 Color Guard. Everyone sang the military branch songs accompanied on the piano by Judy Crosman and the violin by Delpha Rieboldt, and three representatives from the non-profit Quilts of Valor Foundation presented four surprised veterans with their own quilts.

Oregon-NW State Coordinator Lynda Luce, Norma Holloway and special events coordinator Faith Tucker sat at the head table as invited guests, and when the time came for the ceremony, Tucker called each veteran up to the front – Cecil Cardwell, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps; Laverne Harvey, who served in the National Guard; Charles Burks, who served in the Marines; and Jack Bishop, who served in the Army. Tucker held up the quilt made for each veteran for him and the audience to see, then had the veteran turn around, wrapped him in it and gave him a big hug.

According to Tucker, Quilts of Valor was started in 2003, and 150 quilts were made and gifted to veterans in the first three years; now 233,148 quilts have been made and presented to veterans.

Next on the program was the Bell of Remembrance, when a bell was rung for each of the Royal Villas resident veterans who died this year. In addition to Buss, Curtis Tigard and Bill Weaver passed away.

Veterans can be nominated on the Quilts of Valor’s website at qovf.org, and requests are forwarded to the veterans’ state of residence. The process from request to presentation can take from six months to 1 ½ years.

“Every quilt is touched by many hands,” Tucker said.