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Veterans Day is held every year on Nov. 11th, the anniversary of the end of World War I, to honor U.S. veterans and war victims. Five local residents in Monmouth were gracious enough to not only serve our great country, but to share some stories and insight into their time with the service.
Warren County Sheriff Martin Edwards served in the Air Force from 1978 to 2000. He served as a member of the Security Police and as a special agent with the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. Sheriff Edwards summed up what this day means to him:
“You have a different feel for that flag when you’ve served. You develop such a love and respect for your country, for the flag – and when you see the desecration, the disrespect, and things like that – it’s disheartening and infuriating at the same time. I don’t like seeing that because I know what people have done to have that thing fly. I think if people really understood that for just a minute, they’d be ashamed of themselves. They should be, and people should be shaming them for what they do,” he said.
Cheri Stanton of Monmouth served in the Navy as an Air Traffic Controller from 1966 to 1969, but those three years in the military have impacted her life significantly. Upon returning home from her service, Stanton earned a master’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis on language arts. She talked about how the military gave her the tools to acquire such a fine education without having to take on student loan debt:
“Anybody who enters the military is eligible for the military scholarship when they get done. That will help pay for their college education, and if they were a veteran leaving from Illinois and coming back and living in Illinois, then they’re eligible for the Illinois military scholarship, which will also pay for their education. I got my bachelor’s degree with my GI Bill and my masters degree with the Illinois scholarship. I feel very fortunate not to have any student loans, and I highly recommend it for that,” Stanton said.
Wayne “Bunky” Scott spent four years in the United States Navy Aviation during the Korean conflict. Scott is a member of the American Legion Post 136, the Monmouth VFW, and Lions Club. “Bunky” is thankful to be a part of these great organizations that help give back to veterans and their communities.
“There’s very few towns the size of 9,000 that has two veterans clubs that do so much in the community. I don’t think that gets talked about enough. There’s a lot of towns that don’t have it, so I’m pretty proud of the fact that there are two veterans clubs in Monmouth that are both active and do a lot for the community,” Scott said.
Police Chief Joe Switzer has been serving not only our community, but our country for a long time. Switzer joined the Army in 1987, followed by the National Guard. He was deployed to Iraq from 2004 to 2006. His military journey took him to numerous places such as Egypy, Kuwait, Honduras, Colorado, Georgia, California, Ireland, and Germany. Switzer is just thankful that he has a place like the United States to call home after seeing what some third-world countries look like.
Switzer was promoted to Police Chief in Monmouth earlier this year. His role as a protector and leader for both our city and country are duties he is very thankful to have undertaken.
“Being a veteran and serving your country is the greatest thing you can do. I would recommend it to everybody. I think everybody needs to experience that – that growth, the pride you have in yourself, and what you do. Like we said before – take advantage of the benefits that are available,” he said.
Lieutenant Joe Bratcher joined the National Guard in 1989. After contracting malaria during his stint in Honduras and seeing how people in Egypt live, Bratcher is just thankful for the great country that he was able to serve.
Even after losing 25 pounds from his malaria, Bratcher still is gracious for the opportunity he was given to be a part of the exclusive club that is the United States military. He had a bit of advice for any younger people that might want to join the service:
“My advice to the younger kids is – when you go to sign up, educate yourself. Be a student of the benefits, be a student of the service you want to be involved in because if you can get involved in something you’re passionate about, you’re going to serve your country well because you’re passionate about what you’re doing. But educate yourself on things before you just sign on the dotted line,” he said.
On behalf of everyone from WRAM, WMOI, and WAIK, we thank all the local and national veterans for their service and sacrifice for our great country.
written by Jackson Kane