Veterans of Wisconsin

Appleton North’s special ceremony honors those who served

Sydney Pomrening and Jacob Zajkowski

Local veterans were honored on Friday, Nov. 11, at Appleton North with a ceremony presented by the school. Students from North Choir, Band, Orchestra, Drama, and Art all contributed in the event. The honors music departments played pieces commemorated for veterans and patriotism accompanied by a slide show depicting veterans and the American landscape, students from Drama club read diary entries from soldiers in different conflicts, and students from the art department created pieces that revolved around veterans.

These are the stories of five veterans and their reaction to Friday’s ceremony.

 

 

Mike Sele, 76 years old and a former Warrant Officer for the army, served from 1958 to 1968. His day to day life had him soaring high above the soil from sunrise to sunset every day as a pilot. Sele remained in the military two years after his time in Vietnam, and even when he returned, he didn’t receive any special treatment. Friday’s ceremony was a phenomenal event to be able to attend and hear his military branch’s anthem be played, he said.

His message for students is that America still stands as a great country that he was proud to serve for, and he hopes that the dedication to this great nation continues.

Rodger Riechardt was a YM1 in the Navy from 1951 to 1955. Fighting in the Korean conflict, he served on the Natchaug AOG-54 as security and defense of the supply ship that fueled ships that were heading out from the Korean combat zone. Riechardt thought the ceremony was outstanding. He marveled at how well the music department was orchestrated, going along with the slideshows and images. Veterans day to Riechardt commemorates what some of the people had to go through.

After traveling all around the world, Riechardt still holds this claim as fact: “I’ve never been in another country I would rather live in.”

 

Jim Hyde was an SPC 5th class in the United States Army, working for three years in linguistics and intelligence. In the 60’s, Hyde even helped solve a code that stopped Russian missiles from being used. “I took Latin in high school, and the closest thing to that was Romanian, so they put me on in Romania.” Hyde found information for the United States on Romanian soldiers, going out to local bars and listening to the soldiers’ conversations. Hyde felt very honored by the ceremony Friday at North. “It was outstanding, the readings were so nice. They put so much emotion into it.”

“I think Veterans Day is important because we forget what the soldiers did and don’t appreciate what they did.” Hyde felt that the ceremony at North helped honor veterans in a very good way, where on normal days you might not think about it.

 

Jim Laviolette was an SPC-4 in the Army for three years. He served in Vietnam for one year and two years in Germany. Working as a teletype operator and security agent, Laviolette helped in information and communications throughout his time in military service. He feels Veterans Day honors the living and dead veterans who have served, though  he commented that Veterans Day focuses more on the living. “I think that’s important because when we came back, we weren’t treated with respect.” He commented on how people were spat on upon arrival at a Chicago airport after the Vietnam War.

 

Dale W. Lapean spent over thirty years in the military and served in two branches of the military during his time. For two years after his graduation, he was put on active duty, and he was stationed two years in Morocco and Vietnam respectively.  In 1963, Lapean joined the Construction Battalion or CB Reserve in the U.S. Navy Branch. Being in the construction part of the Navy, he worked in the plumbing area, participating in different buildups, or put on guard duty. He even had his time working in HEAT, which stands for Housing Early Application Tool, meant to help service members and their families apply for housing.  Lapean stayed with them for 26 and a half years before transferring into the national guard for a little over three years.

After his time in the military, Lapean attended tech school for three years, describing days in a room with one computer, processing data, feeding it cards, keeping it at room temperature. He chuckled at how far technology has progressed, and his working conditions must’ve sounded ancient to a young reporter. From tech school, he resided with the Post Office for 43 years, but it didn’t stop the nostalgia from flooding back to him during the ceremony. Some of the readings were so moving that he lost himself, he said, and he felt the music was fantastic.

Lapean spoke about the involvement of students with this event, how living service members are honored on this day as Memorial Day honors the dead. Kids will come to a certain age where they might not be able to understand things they didn’t grow up having to deal with. He advises students to find someone who has served, to sit down with them and ask to learn about their experience — no experience is alike, and not everyone will be open to sharing. Lapean, himself, never got shot at, and never shot anyone, but no matter their background in the military, everyone needs to be understood.