Veterans To Share Military Experiences With Students
By Joshua Chamberlain, Contributing Writer
Hampton Union, Tuesday, November 7, 2000
HAMPTON — "Why would anyone want to be a veteran?"
As Veteran's Day approaches this Nov. 11 many people, young and old, may be asking themselves this question, according to one local veteran who will speak at a special Veteran's Day presentation at Hampton Academy Junior High School.
World War II veterans and Hampton Academy alumni Stanwood Brown, Ansell Palmer and Jack Lessard are scheduled to speak to students at a special assembly on Thursday, Nov. 9.
For Brown, a lifetime Hampton resident and a member of the class of 1943 at Hampton High School, there was no question during World War II of whether he wanted to serve In the military.
"We all had to go," says Brown of his enlistment in the Air Force immediately following high school graduation. "Those who were interested in the welfare of their families, their country and their freedoms .... served."
Brown, a lifetime Hampton resident and graduate of Hamp- ton Academy. had planned on working toward a university degree. However, during his senior year in high school, Brown decided to enlist in the Air Force in order to have some choice over his future. "The military was going to put us where we wanted if we did not enlist," he added. Brown recalled that when the fighting in Europe was particularly heavy, draftees in the Air Force were the first sent to support the troops overseas.
"Sometimes in a matter of hours or days they were issued combat gear and [they were] gone." Brown spent time in Air Force Flight School at Butler University in Indiana before also setting on aircraft maintenance. At 18 years old he left New York by sea not knowing where he was going.
"A lot of funny things happened in those days," recalls Brown. "You never knew when you were going to move." Indeed, for a brief moment he thought he might serve the shortest term of duty in the armed forces. "The (atomic] bomb was dropped while we were on that ship," said Brown.
"We thought we would come home. But we didn't." While serving as a member of the 14th Air Force from 1943 to 1946, Brown traveled through the Mediterranean Sea to Egypt and passed through the Suez Canal on his way to India and China where his unit prepared airplanes for service in China. "It was quite an experience," he said.
Ansell Palmer, also a graduate of Hampton Academy, enlisted eight months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1942. At 22- years old Palmer felt that he would better fulfill his duty to his country in the armed service than in a defense industry.
Palmer joined the Navy and was sent to Hawaii as a member of an aircraft service unit. Planes participating in the battles of Iwo Jima, the Marshall Islands and Okinawa originated from the base where Palmer was stationed.
Although Palmer asserts that he didn't do "anything great" he is proud of the role that he and his fellow veterans, of World War II and throughout United States history, have played in "maintaining our present system of democracy."
Sheila Nudd, entering her 31st year coordinating the Veteran's Day event at Hampton Academy, believes that this is the most important message to send: Indeed, Veteran's Day reminds us that while United States citizens enjoy individual freedoms as a nation we are also bound to protect those freedoms as a nation.
"It is hard for Veteran's Day to be real for kids who have never seen war and never been threatened," said Nudd.
Stanwood Brown agrees. Brown says that due to the absence of a draft and the threat of an attack on the east or west coast that it is "hard for youth to know what war is like." Nudd feels that her role and the role of the community is to prepare Hampton youth in the event that American youth are again asked to put aside their own hopes and dreams for the benefit of the future of their country.
"It is unfair to throw a child into a situation they are not ready for," she says. And if they are not ready Nudd will not be caught blaming television or society. "It is our fault as the adults who are preparing them," she states.
In the process, Nudd has been able to foster a sense of respect and awareness among the 7th and 8th graders.
"The kids are ready to listen and ready to show respect," she says. "They have never been rude to the assembly or to a person. They want to be involved."
Palmer will be making his second appearance at the Hampton Academy Veteran's day event he describes as "amazing."
Nudd said she's particularly pleased with student participation this year. A group of students suggested and obtained approval for an informal breakfast for invited guests, select students and faculty prior to the presentation.
The school chorus and the Color Guard will also be featured during the presentation. The public is welcome to attend the event, which will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9. Mrs. Nudd asks that interested parties please call 926-2000 in advance so that sufficient seating is provided.