Army veteran Tom Keyes attended Monday’s ceremony at Lahontan Elementary School to recognize the men and women who currently or have served in the armed forces.
Keyes joined the military as a 19-year-old and traveled the world to Germany, Okinawa and Ft. Bliss, Texas; additionally, he also saw action in Vietnam.
Wearing a Vietnam Veterans ball cap, Keyes looked at the long line of students — some lines as deep as three to four students — watching the honor guard post the colors, listening to the singing of the national anthem and hearing a short speech about thanking veterans.
Keyes felt moved by the ceremony, especially with the students’ participation and a class singing “America the Beautiful.”
“It makes you feel good with the students knowing what a vet is,” said Keyes who spent 14 years in the military. “Before 9/11 ceremonies like this weren’t held, but not they are. It brings tears to your eyes.”
Many veterans — young and old — said they appreciate the recognition.
Command Master Chief Bobby Anderson of Naval Air Station Fallon said military men and women always hear comments thanking them for their service.
“But I want to thank you for your support,” he told the students who were lined up to hear his short speech. “We defend this great country, and thank you for your support of this great country.”
Afterward, he said without the sacrifices of families, military service would be more challenging for the men and women who don the uniform.
“The sacrifices first start at home and with the family,” he stressed.
Anderson said it was also important for younger generations to know what the military does.
Principal Mike Hogan said his staff looks forward to this annual event to honor veterans. He said the Parent Teachers Organization assists the school, and Daire Ochs, a second-grade teacher, coordinates the food and overall activity for the veterans, many of whom have children or grandchildren attending Lahontan.
“It teachers our kids about history and why the day should be celebrated,” Hogan said.
Churchill County Sheriff deputy Ken Catlin served for fours years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Being in a military town has more understanding of the veterans,” said Catlin, who is also the CCSO’s DARE officer for Lahontan. “The kids here have a better understanding. It means a lot. They learn much of our history and where we came from as a nation. The freedom they learned came from vets.”
Kimberly Arthur, the Navy’s school liaison officer, spent three years in the Navy, and her husband recently retired.
“I’m pleased with the activities for the veterans, and it’s especially important that Fallon recognize the vets,” she said.
Arthur touted the Navy’s involvement with Lahontan as a Partner’s in Education with the school, and she said sailors volunteer at Numa and E.C. Best elementary schools and Churchill County Middle School. Additionally, the high school offers Navy Junior ROTC.
PRC Kris Bolhius, an 18-year Navy veteran, moved to Fallon with his family in June. He enjoyed the Lahontan breakfast and ceremony.
“It’s extremely important,” he said when others recognize veterans. “It helps because of what we do. We volunteer our time and look after our fellow Americans.”
The Iowa native grew up in a small city similar to Fallon before joining the Navy, and he has no regrets with his decision.
“It’s been a real rewarding career,” he said. “I met my wife when I was stationed in San Diego.”
Now, with a family that accompanied his transfer to Fallon, Bolhius said they couldn’t be happier.
“There is a small-town feel here,” he said. “Fallon supports the military.”
Likewise, Jack McMindes spent 23 years in the U.S. Air Force before retiring. He then worked for the State of Nevada, coming to Fallon to work in the employment and training office.
“Fallon does a lot for veterans … it’s a great community,” he said.
His granddaughter, a student at Lahontan, told him about the breakfast and ceremony, and he thought it was a good idea to honor the vets.
Librarian Jennifer Sanches never served in the military, but both her parents and grandparents did. Her grandfather was part of the D-Day invasion in June 1944.
“What they did was a great thing, and we are giving something back,” she said.