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Reynolds High School honors veterans at event

Fifth-annual Living History Day draws vets from around region, country

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - 99-year-old World War II US Marine Corps veteran Kenneth Ward is recognized by the audience at Living History Day this afternoon at Reynolds High School in Troutdale.Reynolds High School honored the country's veterans with a celebratory assembly and lunch on Friday, Nov. 6.

“I think it is just wonderful,” said Golda Fabian, a Marine who served in World War II, one of a handful of women vets at the celebration. “They (the Reynolds students) do a really good job.” Fabian has come to all five of the Reynolds Living History Day celebrations.

Veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan visited the classrooms to talk to the students about their experiences in the military.

With the campus adorned with patriotic and military decorations and military vehicles of the past on display outside, hundreds gathered for the all-day "Living History Day" celebration.

Veterans came from all over the region and the country. Attendees included groups such as Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor former POWs; Blackfeet Veterans Honor Guard from Montana; The United Mexican American Veterans Association of Los Angeles; Seminole Veterans Honor Guard from Oklahoma; Yakima Warriors from Washington; and Sioux Warrior Don Loudner.

Some of the veterans in attendance have earned Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star, and other distinguished service awards.

Lt. Gen. Russell C. Davis, a retired Three Star General and past president of the National Tuskegee Airman Inc., the keynote speaker at the assembly, told the students “what you have in this country has been protected by there folks out here,” referring to the assembled veterans.

The elaborate assembly honored all the veterans with speeches, tributes and song. Eight former prisoners of war attended and were recognized. Navy veteran Ken Ward, at 99 years old, was thought to be the oldest veteran at the assembly. Students gave him a rousing round of applause when he stood to be recognized.

First-time attendee Ralph West, who served four years in the Army and 20 years in the Navy and as a helicopter mechanic for four years in Vietnam said, “These kids are fantastic."

Del Riggleman, who served in the Navy for 20 years, three of them in Vietnam said after his service, and worked for the Reynolds School District in maintenance, said “These kids are the greatest, I can't thank them too much."

Students from the school's leadership, culinary arts, multimedia and Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps classes spent more than two weeks preparing for the fifth-annual event.

“I can't imagine the work that went into all these preparations,” said Jean Kerr, who fought in the South Pacific while his wife worked in the shipyards in Portland. Kerr, who has a letter of commendation from President Harry Truman, declared the event “great.”

"The experiences that are shared by veterans to students today are nothing they can get from a textbook," said Mike Anderson, Reynolds High School assistant principal. "They get to hear first-hand what it was like for these veterans."

As the veterans left the campus, Reynolds ROTC students stood in formation and saluted, in one final tribute.

A photo gallery from Living History Day taken by Outlook photographer Josh Kulla is below:


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