Veterans Day: Honoring All Who Served
What we now know as Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919--the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11th became a national holiday beginning in 1938. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
In celebration of this special day, our student journalists and staff are delighted to be able to share with the community the rich experiences we recently had when interviewing a few veterans of Fairfield County. The information they shared and our commitment to honoring their service to this country are our way to preserve their stories for future generations! We thank each of you!
Mr. James Christie is a veteran aircraft mechanic in a 6th generation military line. Mr. Christie’s great-great-great grandfather was in the military, and that is what inspired him to join. He says that his time in the military was very rewarding, even though he had very little experience in how the world worked at the time. He adds it was very exciting going to different bases around the country, though has never been overseas. It has enlightened him to meet different people and to work with his hands. It allowed him to be around military vehicles and aircrafts--something he believes he would never have done had it not been for the military. Mr. Christie says he enjoyed his time in the military, all the way up until the end. He has received the Outstanding Airman Award, the Notorious Unit Award, and also a Campaign Ribbon for the Invasion of Kuwait. With him being the top of his class in basic training and also Honor Fight, he cherishes these awards.
He shared a funny story with me about when he was stationed at a base near the beach. He and two other men had a little too much to drink that night and oneguy fell asleep on the beach. One side of his body was totally sunburned, so they decided to roll him over and he got totally sunburned on the other side as well. The guy couldn’t work for two weeks after that and was discharged for destruction of government property and Article 15 because he couldn’t go to work.
Mr. Christie says the greatest lesson he learned in the military is maturity. “Being able to make my own decisions... knowing the boundaries through the military compliance... ultimately, the transition from being a teenager to being a man... the responsibility of doing physical training and waking up at four in the morning," are what Mr. Christie elaborated on regarding maturity.
After the military, he has worked in construction, and he builds decks and docks on the weekends. He was given an opportunity to build a log cabin, and the second one he built was featured in Log Home Living Magazine. He has 15 years of experience in building log houses. He shared that in 2008, the housing market crashed and he was temporarily out of a job until he was offered a machinistand welder position. Mr. Christie also worked as a locksmith. Eventually, Superintendent Dr. J.R. Green appointed Christie as the new Maintenance Director in 2011, and he has worked with Fairfield County School District since.
He also talked about his father who passed away last year in September. His father served four years in the Air Force and became a mechanic who also learned how to work on helicopters. He helped develop a helicopter that was instrumental in the war, for which he received a ribbon.
Overall, Mr. Christie expresses that the military is a good choice for young people who can’t figure out what to do in their lives.
Mr. Clifton Hendrix graduated from McCrorey-Liston High School in 1958, and when he finished school, he thought he wanted to be an electrician. Unfortunately at the time, he could not find a job in that field. After a few months of looking for a job, he decided to go to Baltimore, Maryland and the only jobs that he could find at that time was washing dishes in restaurants. Hendrix didn't enjoy doing that type of work, so after six months, he decided to relocate to Columbus, Ohio, and the same thing existed there, and it took him a while to get a good job.
So, in March of 1959, Mr. Clifton Hendrix joined the Navy, and when he joined the Navy, he qualified to be an Interior Communication Electrician. He expressed, "When I went to boot camp and graduated, I was qualified to go to what they call a training school or "A" school, and I went to an Interior Communication class in "A" school."
After graduating from the Interior Communication class, he was assigned to the U.S. Navy Air, stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. While Mr. Hendrix was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, he worked on communication equipment. About a year passed, and he went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for eighteen months and worked in the repair department for ships. "I was reassigned to a ship, and that was the U.S.S. Boxer, which was an amphibious assault ship that had helicopters on it," he shared. He specialized in this area for four years, and during that time, he went to all of the Caribbean islands, Spain, Italy, and France, and he also took different cruises to Vietnam.
Mr. Hendrix's most honorable medal was the Good Conduct Medal. One of his long-standing memories is being able to work hard at sea and then being able to relax once they have done their duties, "being able to enjoy places I had never been before."
Lastly, the greatest lesson that Mr. Hendrix learned due to his experience in the military is this: "Whatever you do, try to be prepared for it and when you go to do something, do you very best."
Our remaining veterans are contributions from Ms. Peggy Frick, the Veterans Service Officer/Administrative Assistant at Fairfield County Veterans Affairs. Our staff extends a warm "Thank you!" for collaborating with us on this!
Mrs. Diana Y. Robinson
"I've always wanted to serve my country, and I needed assistance with college tuition. I joined the Marine Corps in March 1997 and was honorably discharged in March 2005. Joining the Marines was a life-changing experience. I was able to travel, make life-long friendships, and marry my husband of 21 years, Mr. Neil Robinson.
While serving, I received the Meritorious Mast for aiding in the recovery efforts of missing comrade, Lance Corporal Perez.
A memorable and funny experience I had happened one day during basic training. I began to imitate my drill instructor, Staff Sergeant Tomika Perdomo. All of sudden, I felt this heat at the back of my neck, and standing behind me was her! We became good friends. She proudly served from 1987 to 2007 and earned the rank of 1st Sergeant. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer and was laid to rest with full military honors on January 14, 2009.
The greatest lessons I learned from my military experience are to stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone; never leave your brother or sister behind; HONOR, COURAGE, and COMMITMENT. There is no such thing as an ex-Marine. I am a former Marine now proudly serving my Fairfield County community. Semper Fi."
Mr. Everette B. Hair III
"My motivation to join the Navy was the lack of local jobs at the time. Also, I wanted to see other things and places besides South Carolina. It was tough in the beginning--learning to adapt. I advanced, though, and continued getting better. I served for 20 years and specialized in electronics, computers, and explosives.
I earned citations for Expert Rifle and Pistol, Navy Achievement X4, and three Letters of Commendation.
One of the memories that I look back on and smile was when I went to Japan and got lost and tried to explain where I needed to go. Someone took me by the hand and put me on a train back to my base with instructions written in English and Japanese.
The greatest lesson I learned from my military experience is the importance of diversity and inclusion to all human beings! I learned to respect all!"
Mr. Joe Brown
My initial motivation for joining the US Army stemmed from a family member that told me stories of her experiences in the U.S. Army. This left a lasting impression on me as a young 8th grader. In my senior year of high school, I realized that I didn’t have a plan, whether to attend college, trade school, or enter the workforce.
I served in the U.S. Army for 26 years, retiring as a Command Sergeant Major in the Telecommunications field. I worked in several different positions over the 26 years, culminating as a senior enlisted advisor. I’ve been stationed in five U.S. locations and three overseas locations--Germany, Panama, and Korea.
The medals I received are as follows: Bronze Star Medal- Meritorious achievement in a combat zone (Iraq); Meritorious Service Medal- Advisor/ Trainer for Afghanistan Army (Afghanistan); Joint Army Achievement Medal- Distinguished service during The Salvadoran Civil War (El Salvador); Humanitarian Service Medal- Distinguished service and support during Hurricane Mitch Disaster Relief (Guatemala, El Salvador); Army Achievement Medal- First medal that I received in the U.S. Army (Frankfurt, Germany).
One of the funny stories I'd like to share is about when I was at a shooting range in Germany, and I fell asleep waiting to fire my weapon. A friend of mine poured Tabasco sauce in my mouth. It took a second for me to wake up and taste the burn. I ran out of the tent screaming and yelling, while my buddies (fellow soldiers) where outside laughing.
The greatest lesson I gained from the military would be tenacity/perseverance. It’s not enough to set a goal; it’s more important to have the strength and determination to endure the process, especially when it’s long and hard or you face obstacles. You often hear the phrase 'failure is not an option, but the real intent of that is 'giving up is not an option.'"
Mr. Thomas Williams
"At a very young age I lost my father. I was raised by a single mother with two younger siblings. My primary reason for joining the military was to help assist my mother financially and have a stable career. It wouldn’t have been possible to assist her immediately by going to college first, so I decided to join the military. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Overall, I loved my time in the military. I learned things through my time in the Marine Corps that are invaluable to me. In basic training, I discovered that I had more willpower than I thought I had. My fellow Marines would attest to that, I’m sure. Working alongside other Marines and being in command over Marines taught me more about teamwork and the importance of maintaining integrity. These lessons I still use as a civilian today. Although the military has had a negative effect on my body, the lessons I’ve learned are ones I will remember forever.
My most honored medal received would be the Global War on Terrorism Medal. I can remember some of my peers in high school had an interest in joining the military, but they were timid because the U.S. was fighting the war on terror. They feared they would be sent overseas and would instantly be indulged in actual combat. I was willing to see past the fear and make the decision to join; therefore, wearing this medal makes me feel so much pride.
A funny experience I remember happened in basic training. There would be drill sergeants that mocked the recruits, especially when they were doing something wrong. It was a tactic used to make sure the other recruits would know that this is not something that was accepted. Well, there was one instance where a recruit was being mocked and it was hilarious! I remember smiling to keep from bursting in laughter. I was caught by another drill sergeant and he forced me to smile all day long. Even when I ran, I had to smile. As I completed rounds of PT, I had to smile. I remember my cheeks were starting to get sore but I still had to smile. Reflecting back, it was pretty hilarious, but I was sure not to make that mistake again!
I would have to say one of the greatest lessons I learned in the Marine Corps is the practice of integrity. Often times we were told “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching”. As a high school student, it was a part of the culture to sneak and do things, regardless of whether it was the right thing or not. The Marine Corp taught me that is the one trait you want to have, to be a person full of integrity. For the rest of my days I am going to try with all I have to be a man known as a man of integrity."
Mr. Neil Robinson
"What motivated me to join the military was the fact that I was not ready for college at the time, and I had always wanted to be some kind of public servant. I chose the Marine Corps and joined with my cousin under the buddy system.
The Marine Corps provided me with a new outlook on life and my views of the world. I am thankful I took the challenge. I received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for exemplary leadership while deployed in Kosovo.
One of the funny things I remember from my experience is a guy in my unit who claimed he could make it rain--literally. He would sit in the middle of the motorpool and start chanting.
The greatest lesson I learned is this: The Marine Corps taught me to not look at color, race, or gender--as we are all Marines. We have brothers and sisters around the world. Semper Fi."