Originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the signing of the agreement that ended World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, this federal holiday was changed to Veterans Day in 1954. At that time, it became a day to honor all men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States.
I had two uncles who served in World War II and they were both injured several times during some of the deadliest battles of the war but both returned home after the war was over, much to the relief of my grandparents. My dad served and was released from the Army before World War II was declared but was not recalled because of his civilian job of transporting military supplies in Southern California. He spent many nights driving the coastal highway to Long Beach Harbor under black-out lights because the western states were ordered to black out their windows at night so enemy aircraft couldn’t find and bomb the cities in the dark of night. The military also set up fake cities out in the remote Mojave Desert complete with roads and streetlights to lure aircraft from the populated areas. This was a time before global positioning satellites devices and not knowing if the enemy aircraft was capable of reaching coastal shores.
Most everything was rationed in those days during WWII so supplies could be used for the war effort. There were no civilian cars manufactured during the war years so the assembly plants could build military vehicles. If you owned a car it was difficult to buy oil, gasoline or tires. Most food commodities were scarce and many people survived on “victory gardens” who grew their produce in the back yard. It was a trying time for our country back then but I think people were closer as they were living and surviving for a common goal.
As a result, I have a lot of respect for those who we refer to as the Greatest Generation and I also have a lot of respect for those who have served and are currently serving in the military. As I write this on Tuesday, the body of National Guardsman Major Brent Taylor was being returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. He was killed by an “insider” attack in Afghanistan during his fourth deployment. He is the mayor of North Ogden, Utah and leaves behind a wife and seven children. I am pleased that the staff of HMK Elementary School take the time to teach the students about veterans and present their annual program for the public and especially the veterans of our county. I have kept a fairly complete list of Castle Valley veterans ever since the school asked for a list of Castle Valley veterans to honor several years ago. To the best of my knowledge we have 27 veterans living in Castle Valley who served from the Korean War to the present. We have lost two veterans to death during the past year who served valiantly in two different wars. Master Sgt. Vern Simmons was the only one of the Greatest Generation left in Castle Valley who saw action during World War II, and Bill Riggs was in the thick of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. Both died this past year.
Following is a list of veterans who live in Castle Valley: From the Army are Skip Ambrose, Orville Diggs, Ron Drake, Chris Fukui, Greg Halliday, Susan Halliday, Dennis Johnson, Don Montoya, Patrick O’Kelly, Bob Russell and Richard Williams. Veterans from the Navy are Jeff Anderson, Jake Burnett, Ed Derderian, Dorr Hatch, Ray Radley, Floyd Stoughton, and Jeff Whitney. Air Force veteran include Ron Daily, Hank Freeman, Tony Martineau, Hollan Moore, and John Taggart. Veterans of the United States Marine Corps are Larry Craig, Josh Pike, Pete Plastow, and Trisha Rodgers.
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The members of the Castle Valley photo group presented their newest photos during an open house at the Castle Valley Library Nov. 10. The 10 photos will be on display for about six months in the library and people are encouraged to drop by and take a look. The photo group meets monthly to review assigned photographic images that were taken during the previous month. The valley has many talented photographers as was featured during their meeting last Monday. The assignment was abstract photos and there were some beautiful pictures on the subject. Castle Valley resident Connie Massingale also gave an interesting presentation entitled “Color in Prehistoric Art of the Southwest: Pigment.” It was an exploration of the ochres and other mineral pigments used in the rock art and other uses.