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Honoring Veterans at Lewisville Elementary

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Vet 88 By Kim Underwood

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

NOVEMBER 9, 2018 – Silas Pilson is in kindergarten at Lewisville Elementary. His father, Rodney Pilson, served in the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This morning, Pilson and other veterans and their families came to the school for a Veterans Day Celebration. Pilson, an E4 Specialist who served from 2000 to 2006, said he appreciates veterans being recognized in that way.

“I think it teaches our children how wonderful our country is and the people who serve it,” Pilson said.  “It makes me grateful to be an American.”

He hopes that such recognitions also help students understand that the freedom they have to come to school and learn is based on the brave men and women who work to defend that freedom and on the sacrifices of their families that make their service possible.

Vet 92 Another veteran there was Tonya Hunolt, who served in the Navy at an E5 from 1999 to 2005. Her son Connor is a second-grader.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said of the celebration.

As veterans and family members were gathering in the gym, Shannon Spencer, who is serving as a Principal Intern at Lewisville Elementary, was taking care of last-minute details such as the slideshow of veterans connected to students at Lewisville.

For Spencer, such a celebration serves to honor veterans while helping the students “to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a veteran. This makes it more concrete.”

Once the program began, students participated in a number of ways. Members of Boy Scout Troop No. 752 presented the flags. Students performed songs. Three students – Bella Standly, Lily Kunnmann, Emily Murphy – spoke about the importance of thanking veterans and offered tributes and a poem.

Josi Sutton, who is in kindergarten, then introduced her father, Capt. Michael Sutton, who is on active duty with the National Guard. His wife, Ashley, and their son, Maeson, was also there.

Vets 67 Sutton began by thanking the veterans present for their service. At Lewisville, there’s a focus on the importance of learning three things – respect, independence, and responsibility – and Sutton used those as a way to talk about what serving in the military can teach you.

“One thing we learn is how to treat each other,” he said.  

During the program, John Sherrill - whose wife, Sylvia Sherrill, works as a teacher assistant at Lewisville – talked about the history of “Taps” and then played it on his trumpet. Sherrill, who also plays piano, trombone and tuba, has been playing in Moravian Easter services for 48 years.

Second-graders had made “thank you” cards for the veterans, and, they went around giving them to the veterans present.  

After the ceremony was over, some students took the opportunity to thank veterans and to shake their hands. One of them was first-grader Titus Thames. He went up and thanked 1st Sgt. John Faith, who, including his time in the reserve, served in the Army from 1960 to 1994. Faith’s daughter, Lori Norman, teaches kindergarten at Lewisville, and his grandson T.J. is in fifth grade there.

Vet 59 Titus then rejoined his grandfather, Darrell Carmac, and uncle, Steve Carmac, who are both veterans.

Other veterans there today included Terry Stankwytch, who served in the Air Force as a sergeant from 1968 to 1972. He was there with his wife, Cathy. Their grandson Camden is in first grade.

The Vietnam War was going on during his time of service.

“During the Vietnam War, veterans were kind of looked down on,” he said.

It’s good that veterans are appreciated these days, he said.

His wife said, “I’m just glad the school does a special program to recognize them.”

While serving as a private in the Army from 1959 to 1962, Gary Faulk made 26 jumps as a paratrooper. Faulk was there with his wife, Virginia. Their grandson Xander is in first grade.

Faulk said he appreciated the school having the celebration.

Vet 94 “It makes more people aware of the people who have served, and it makes children aware,” he said.

Virginia Faulk said, “Children need to know what people in the military have done. We need to teach them every chance we get about how our country is protected.”

Students had been invited to wear red, white and blue for the day, and third-grader Quinn Spicer was wearing a red shirt.

His grandfather, David Wesley Arrington, served in Vietnam for a year – “one year too many,” Arrington said – while he was in the Army from 1966 to 1968. When he and Quinn talk about the military, Arrington said, he may talk about the importance of the military in protecting our country and about the importance of respecting those who serve.

John Ethridge was a commander when he served the Navy from 1993 to 2017. His son, Lennox Howard, who is in the first grade, was wearing a Navy sweatshirt.

Vet 60 During some of that time, Ethridge served on a submarine, and Lennox’s questions tend to be about those days.

“He always asks about the submarine and what it’s like to be underwater.”  

Ethridge appreciated veterans being honored and thinks such positive attention on those who serve is good for the students.

“It’s good to get that sense of pride for the military at a young age,” he said.

One of those still on active duty is Lt. Col. McLane Gardner, who is in the Air Force. He is stationed in the eastern part of the state where the family was living before Hurricane Michael severely damaged their home.

While the house is being rebuilt, the rest of the family – his wife, Traci, and children Nathan and Greta – are here. Nathan is a third-grader at Lewisville and Gardner’s  niece, Kristina Tullos, is also a third-grader at Lewisvlle.

Vet 62 Kyle Greenwood’s granddaughter, Madison Wagoner, is in second grade. Greenwood served in the Army from 1971 to 1974 as an E4 Specialist. He was lucky, he said. He came home.

He thinks it’s important for students to understand that not everyone does and their sacrifice made it possible for the students to live their lives in freedom.

“All those names on all those monuments paid the price for them to be able to do this,” he said.  

The veterans connected to Lewisville Elementary who provided pictures and information for the slideshow were:

  • Rodney Pilson – U.S. Army – Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Sergeant William Gray Watts – 101st Airborne Division, 2nd Brigade 1-75 Calvary Regiment
  • John Wayne Adams
  • David Arrington
  • Vet 64 Maurice Dent – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Byran Dent – Army Ranger
  • Kelvin Moore – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Steve McDowell – Vietnam Veteran
  • Ellis Owens – U.S. Navy
  • Bob Owens – U.S. Army
  • John Baker – U.S. Army
  • William “Pete” Travise
  • RodneyTravis
  • Sherman Johnson – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Chuck Austin – E5 2nd Class Petty Officer
  • Natalie York – U.S. Navy E3 Seaman
  • Bud Harper – U.S. Army
  • Avon Ragan – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Chase Ragan – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Jack Rickard – U.S. Navy
  • Vet 97 William Richard Norman, Sr. – U.S. Navy, WWII
  • Timothy Richard Norman, Sr. – U.S. Air Force, E5
  • Sergeant Karen Yap – U.S. Air Force, Navy Reserves
  • Benjamin Chancey
  • Joshua Chancey
  • David Chancey
  • Bill Johnson – U.S. Army, Vietnam
  • Matt Inman – U.S. Marines
  • Terry Stankwytch
  • Paul Daughinee – U.S. Marines, Gunnery Sergeant
  • Master Sergeant Kenneth Corwin – U.S. Air Force
  • Sergeant Bradley Keirsblick – U.S. Army
  • Major Mike Norton – U.S. Army Medical Corps
  • AC Hengler
  • Captain Frank Lloyd Smith – U.S. Navy, Vietnam
  • Vet 72 Frank Corry Smith – U.S. Navy
  • Bryce Wiltermood – U.S. Army Ranger, Chaplin
  • Kyle Greenwood – U.S. Army
  • Darrell Carmac
  • Commander John Ethridge – U.S. Navy
  • Bill Howard – U.S. Army
  • Matthew A. Zoncick – U.S. Navy
  • Johnson Vestal
  • Kermit Doub – U.S. Army, Korean War
  • Kyle Doub – U.S. Marines, Iraq War
  • Michael Doub – U.S. Marines, Iraq War
  • David Binkley – U.S. Air Force
  • Brad Sprague
  • Antonio Rodriguez, Sr.
  • Deborah Rodriguez
  • Antonio Rodriguez, Jr.
  • Jeffrey T. Boger – U.S. Army Infantry Airborne
  • John Bellezza – U.S. Army, WWII
  • Captain Bill Biedenkapp
  • Sam Langdon, U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division
  • Christopher Mabe
  • Robert Zedd Hartness
  • Gaither Cebon Transou, Jr.
  • Charles Wesley Shore
  • Charles Larry Shore
  • Tonya Hunolt – U.S. Navy – Gunners Mate Missile Technician
  • John Diachenko – Korean War
  • Philip Jackson – WWII, German POW captured at the Battle of the Bulge, Purple Heart Recipient
  • Lieutenant Colonel McLane Gardner – U.S. Air Force
  • Daniel Bernard Robertson – U.S. Air Force
  • Richard Lykam
  • Jonathan Walker
  • Hans Talley
Kim Underwood
rkunderwood@wsfcs.k12.nc.us
336.727.2696