Vet­er­ans Day hon­ors ser­vice mem­bers, 11th day of the 11th month, safe and se­cure


Vet­er­ans Day hon­ors ser­vice mem­bers, 11th day of the 11th month, safe and se­cure

In a com­plex and de­mand­ing con­tem­po­rary world, we of­ten for­get and some­times ig­nore the heroic deeds and sac­ri­fices ex­hib­ited by brave men and women of the armed ser­vices to keep the United States and its cit­i­zens safe and se­cure. As the pro­tec­tors of free­dom, our vet­er­ans have stead­fastly demon­strated al­tru­is­tic be­hav­ior, of­ten giv­ing up life and limb for what our na­tion and its peo­ple stand for.

Nov. 11 is a spe­cial oc­ca­sion to honor these men and women. TOTI Me­dia is high­light­ing a trio of the many thou­sands of vet­er­ans call­ing Southwest Florida their home.


With few ex­cep­tions, United States vet­er­ans are out­stand­ingly pa­tri­otic. Cape Co­ral’s Bruce Har­wood is such an ex­am­ple. Fly­ing the Stars and Stripes at his home has been a way to ex­press grat­i­tude for liv­ing in a so­ci­ety that ex­em­pli­fies free­dom. Now re­tired be­cause of wounds sus­tained in bat­tle, he says that it was an honor to serve his coun­try, first as an en­listed in­fantry­man in Viet­nam and later as a Ranger-qual­i­fied cap­tain and he­li­copter pi­lot. “Air Mo­bile,” he says, “orig­i­nated in Viet­nam and changed the en­tire con­cept of how sol­diers got from point A to point B.” In­stead of driv­ing and go­ing on foot, troops were air­lifted to and from key spots, of­ten at great risk to ter­res­trial and air­borne sol­diers, Har­wood says. Pa­tri­otic pride, broth­erly love and well-ex­e­cuted team­work were cru­cial in car­ry­ing out this tac­tic suc­cess­fully, he says.

Dur­ing his time in Viet­nam, Har­wood earned four Pur­ple Heart and two Bronze Star medals for wounds and hero­ism. The medals now grace the walls of his home of­fice, along with other pic­tures and medals. Asked why he is strongly pa­tri­otic, he says that above all else, he re­al­izes “the value of be­ing free.” He is quick to point out that his fa­ther was a proud World War II vet­eran. Capt. Har­wood is work­ing on a book about his tours of duty.


Frank Mraz of LaBelle en­tered the U.S. Air Force, re­ceiv­ing a com­mis­sion and sub­se­quently re­tir­ing with a rank of full colonel. He served dur­ing the Viet­nam War. He owes his re­spect for free­dom and ed­u­ca­tion to the armed ser­vices, he says, in­clud­ing earn­ing a doc­tor­ate in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion.

As a young man en­ter­ing the ser­vice in the 1960s, Frank Mraz didn’t ques­tion the rea­son for war. He in­stead joined to pledge his loy­alty to fight the en­emy. When he be­came older and had ex­pe­ri­enced over­whelm­ing bat­tle con­di­tions, he, more than many, un­der­stood the sac­ri­fices men and women of the armed ser­vices have made to keep our coun­try free. “Over 58,000 U.S. men and women died in the Viet­nam War,” he says. “More than 150,000 had been wounded, and at least 21,000 had been per­ma­nently dis­abled. And only they and oth­ers who fought [in this and other bat­tles] truly un­der­stand the atroc­i­ties of war and the an­guish fight­ing men and women of­ten de­velop un­der bat­tle con­di­tions.”

Bruce Har­wood of Cape Co­ral is writ­ing a book about his ex­pe­ri­ences in Viet­nam. The for­mer Army cap­tain earned four Pur­ple Heart and two Bronze Star dec­o­ra­tions as a sol­dier and a he­li­copter pi­lot.

Capt. Har­wood has been work­ing on a book about his tours of duty.


Bob Bair of Naples proudly served with the 1st Army un­der Gen. Court­ney Hodges dur­ing the Korean con­flict. He says that his time in the Army, for which he felt hon­ored to serve, strength­ened his in­cen­tive to broaden his per­spec­tive in life and made him re­al­ize the na­ture and gen­uine value of free­dom in a world that is some­times over­come by strife.

These are but glimpses of wartime strug­gles that have been ex­pe­ri­enced by the mil­lions of brave men and women who fought and have served the United States. They un­der­stand the ra­tio­nal­ity of the state­ment that free­dom is not al­ways free. From World War I (dubbed “the war to end all wars”) to World War II and bat­tles in Korea, Viet­nam, the Mid­dle East and through­out the world, our vet­er­ans have given their all to pro­tect our free­dom, and de­serve our undy­ing sup­port for their un­selfish con­tri­bu­tion to­ward na­tional sta­bil­ity.

Let’s re­mem­ber our vet­er­ans on Nov. 11―and al­ways.

Henry Hermann is a Korean vet­eran, spend­ing time in Pu­san, Taegu and Kimpo, Korea (ad­ja­cent to the 38th Par­al­lel). As edi­tor of the base news­pa­per in Kimpo (The Mos­quito Ob­server), he spent time be­tween Korea and Fukuoka, Ja­pan, in a jour­nal­is­tic and editorial ca­pac­ity. He lives in Fort My­ers.

For­mer Sgt. 1st Class Rod­ney Van Ness (above left) and for­mer Staff Sgt. Jonathan Ramirez work at the U.S. De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs of­fice in Fort My­ers. Florida has some 1.6 mil­lion vet­er­ans, or about 12 per­cent of the state's pop­u­la­tion over...

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