Prairie Grove Stu­dents Honor Vet­er­ans

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kut­ter

PRAIRIE GROVE — U.S. Army Staff Sgt. (re­tired) Bo Mitchell quoted scrip­ture from the Bible on Fri­day as one way to de­scribe a vet­eran.

Isa­iah 6:8 says, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord say­ing, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”

Mitchell, who is a school re­source of­fi­cer with Prairie Grove Po­lice Depart­ment, said the Bible verse de­scribes vet­er­ans, those who are will­ing to go and serve their coun­try.

“The rea­son our great na­tion is the way it is to­day is be­cause of our vet­er­ans,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell was one of the guest speak­ers Fri­day for the an­nual Vet­er­ans Assem­bly at Prairie Grove Mid­dle School. Each year stu­dents in­vite

par­ents, grand­par­ents, great-grand­par­ents or other fam­ily mem­bers to be hon­ored at the assem­bly. The morn­ing be­gan with a vet­er­ans’ break­fast in the cafe­te­ria, a flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony and then the pro­gram in the mid­dle school gym.

Mitchell served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He shared the story of one of his sol­diers who had an im­pact on his life and dis­played the courage of a vet­eran who was will­ing to go into com­bat and sac­ri­fice for his coun­try.

The young man, a 19-yearold named An­drew Hud­gens, al­ways vol­un­teered for work and was one of the best sol­diers Mitchell had been around. The squad was de­ployed to Afghanistan and Mitchell said Hud­gens was on “cloud nine” be­cause he be­lieved the best way to serve would be to serve in war.

While there, Hud­gens slipped and fell 40 feet and broke his wrist and frac­tured a hip. He headed home for surgery but told his fel­low sol­diers he would be back. Doc­tors told him he would not be able to re­turn but Hud­gens dis­agreed. Hud­gens had surgery and went through re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices. Dur­ing that time, he con­tin­ued to write let­ters to his squad and send care pack­ages.

“That’s where his mind was and that’s where his heart was,” Mitchell said.

Hud­gens was given the OK to re­turn to com­bat and Mitchell said the young man had to make a choice be­tween stay­ing home with his fam­ily or re­turn­ing to Afghanistan. He de­cided to re­turn. Two weeks later, Hud­gens was killed in com­bat.

Hud­gens was the epit­ome of a soldier, Mitchell said. He showed loy­alty, duty, re­spect, courage.

“I want to thank our sol­diers be­cause with­out you, we wouldn’t be here to­day,” Mitchell said, ad­dress­ing those vet­er­ans sit­ting in front of him.

The sec­ond speaker for the pro­gram, Ma­jor Robert An­der­son, re­tired from the U.S. Army in 1986 after serv­ing for 20 years in a health­care ca­pac­ity. One of his jobs was to help sup­ply needs to hos­pi­tals.

“It takes team­work to make the Army work, to make the Air Force work and the Navy and Marines,” An­der­son said.

An­der­son started with a his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive of Vet­er­ans Day, not­ing that after the sac­ri­fice of more than 40 mil­lion lives, the fight­ing of the “war to end all wars” stopped on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

“In most of the world, this has been a week of somber, re­flec­tive cer­e­monies re­mem­ber­ing the mil­lions of lives that will cul­mi­nate with pa­rades and large me­mo­rial ser­vices in ceme­ter­ies and at war memo­ri­als to those that died,” An­der­son said.

To­day, Vet­er­ans Day is used to honor all those who have served in the mil­i­tary at any time, An­der­son said. Some were in com­bat units, some en­gaged in com­bat on for­eign ground, some served sup­port­ing those in com­bat and many served in units ready to en­gage in com­bat. Many oth­ers served in the United States train­ing for com­bat or to sup­port com­bat.

An­der­son served as a divi­sion med­i­cal sup­ply of­fi­cer and med­i­cal bat­tal­ion lo­gis­tics staff of­fi­cer while in Viet­nam in 1968 and 1969 with the Amer­i­cal Divi­sion, or 23rd In­fantry. From 1980 to 1986, he worked in plan­ning and ex­e­cut­ing the mod­ern­iza­tion of the field med­i­cal equip­ment for the Army Med­i­cal Depart­ment.

He shared how mem­bers of the Army Med­i­cal Depart­ment pro­vided health­care, re­con­struc­tive surgery and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices to mil­lions of sol­diers in­jured in com­bat. Many of the ad­vances in mil­i­tary medicine have been passed onto the gen­eral pub­lic, in­clud­ing treat­ment of burns, im­mu­niza­tions and plas­tic surgery tech­niques and method­olo­gies.

“I am here to­day to thank you for re­mem­ber­ing all vet­er­ans,” An­der­son said.

He turned to the stu­dents and en­cour­aged them to con­sider serv­ing their coun­try by be­com­ing a mem­ber of the mil­i­tary forces.

“Ser­vice in the mil­i­tary is the ul­ti­mate of na­tional ser­vice for our democ­racy,” An­der­son said.

“Ser­vice in the

mil­i­tary is the ul­ti­mate of na­tional ser­vice for our democ­racy.”

Ma­jor Robert An­der­son


Lan­don Jor­dan, a fifth-grader at Prairie Grove Mid­dle School, sat with his great-grand­fa­ther at the Vet­er­ans Assem­bly on Fri­day morn­ing. Clem Tol­lett served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1963. See more pho­tos from Vet­er­ans Day cer­e­monies at lo­cal schools on 6A.

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