Veterans share their experiences with Brentwood middle schoolers
Mike Kelly would do it all again — the frightening first day on duty, the training on a raft in the open sea, and the months away from family and friends.
“It's the job,” Kelly, 71, of Baldwin Township, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1960 to 1986, repeated several times to the room full of Brentwood Middle School students last week.
Nearly 20 veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam shared their experiences with the 285 middle school students in honor of Veterans Day, a national holiday on Nov. 11.
The program was started several years ago at Brentwood Middle School by social studies teacher Casey Phillips and used to include only a handful of veterans talking to sixth-graders. This year, with the help of long-term substitute math teacher Nicole Davis, the program was bolstered to include more veterans, from their mid-20s to early 90s.
Hearing what the veterans experienced during their years of service is meant to help give the students an appreciation for their lives, Phillips said.
“All the freedom and nice things that we experience, it's because of the service people who laid it all on the line,” he said.
Meeting the veterans also helped the students to understand that the veterans were just like them, Davis said.
“Just make sure you respect everyone at all times, you don't know what they did for you,” she said.
The veterans enjoyed having a chance to reflect on their time in the service, they said.
“We're proud of being veterans. I'm proud of being a Marine,” said Bob Stoodt, 64, of South Park, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a past commander of the Brentwood Veterans of Foreign Wars. “I'll never stop being a Marine.”
Each veteran shared a different story, but they all had a common theme: They loved the time they spent serving their country.
“I can't remember ever being unhappy when I was in the service. Of course, there was a lot of sadness involved. People lost their lives. But I enjoyed what I did,” said Morton Parker, 93, of Whitehall, a U.S. Navy Veteran who served in World War II.
The youngsters wanted to know it all: Did you get to come home for the holidays? How long were you away from your family? What was your favorite meal while you were away?
What was it like to land a plane on a carrier?
“It's like trying to drive through the Liberty Tunnels at night with just a candle at the other end,” said Al DiLembo, 89, of Baldwin Borough, who served in the Air Force in World War II.
How about those meals?
Louisiana hot sauce made anything taste appetizing, Kelly said.
And if they were invited back to serve now would they, the students wanted to know.
“No, I'm too old,” Kelly said, laughing.
Parker said he learned valuable lessons in the service.
“You do the best possible job you can in whatever you're doing,” Parker said. “Just be a person where you want to contribute. Don't tear down.”
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Baldwin High School latest stop on High School Nation tour
- Young musical writer’s work to be performed at J.E. Harrison Middle School
- South Hills talent at center stage for ‘Chorus Line’ performance
- Whitehall considers reversing alcohol rules
- Baldwin UP planning flea market, dinner
- Plenty of treats for Halloween in South Hills
- New food services director hired in Brentwood