Veterans Day interviews – Part 2
Dunmore, W.Va. – During the annual Pocahontas County Honors Corps veteran’s supper, I spoke to several vets about what makes military service different from a civilian occupation.
Lee Stine, of Frank, is a retired naval officer.
“The big difference, of course, is that in civilian life, you seldom work more than 40 hours a week and you know pretty well where you’re going to be at any given time,” he said. “The military life is different. You don’t know where you’re going to be. Somebody’s going to tell you, ‘go here or go there’ and you really are at the beck and call of your government.
“When I was a little boy, we called it Armistice Day and they changed it, probably appropriately, to Veterans Day. And I think it’s been a way of acknowledging the fact that we have a group of citizens, who put out a little bit extra.”
Much of Stine’s service was spent commanding submarines.
“The submarines that I was in were not much different than the ones we had in World War I,” he said. “They were short on fresh water, short on fresh air, not short on food.”
Stine commanded river patrol boats in Vietnam and took an unusual vessel deep into enemy territory.
“While I was in Vietnam, we had three air-cushion machines,” he said. “These are vehicles that go just about anywhere. So, we decided to try to get, with the Special Forces, up in the Plain of Reeds, which was an area that was inaccessible by any wheeled vehicle. So, we took them up there and pretty much ran wild for a couple of days.”
Army Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Price recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
“I would say that it’s more difficult and it’s a profession – a professional job,” he said. “I mean, you get in and raise your right hand. You swear an oath to the Constitution and, you know, there’s physical standards and educational standards. There is a code of conduct, a code of ethics that you’re held to and you hold your brethren to. Higher standards – you do represent your country and state.”
Interviewer: “What was the most difficult part of your military service?”
“Probably the deployment,” Price said. “Not so much working on the deployment or being over in Afghanistan, because once you’re over there, you’re doing your job and you’re focused and you just look forward to every day. The hardest part was, obviously, leaving the family. Your family has it hard when you’re on deployment. You’re working over there and you know when you’re going outside the wall or outside the wire and when you should be worried. Your family’s over here worrying about you 24/7.”
Barry Sharp is a retired Navy NCO.
“Veterans Day is for the living” he said. “It’s to honor those that did make it back. We have a lot of them that made it back that are injured. That, to me, is the supreme sacrifice of the ones that are still living. Like this last war with Afghanistan and Iraq, we got a lot of soldiers coming back with lost limbs. It’s a new war over there with the new IEDs. I’ve been honored to meet some of these soldiers who lost limbs and they showed me pictures that they’ve took of vehicles they were in and it’s just amazing what they went through over there. So, it’s kind of an honor to say thank you to those kind of guys and Veterans Day is the day we do that.”
Sheriff David Jones is a retired Marine Corps officer.
“Is it like any other job – no, it’s not,” he said. “But you do it because you’re driven to want to do it. You have a love of country and you want to serve. So, if it’s hard or what you consider difficult to most – I don’t think to the veterans it is difficult. I think it’s something they love to do. A lot of people don’t have military members in their family anymore. I think they fail to realize that all the things that we have that we can complain about or happy about are all due to somebody willing to give themselves for something greater than themselves.”