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Honoring Freedom

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CYANMAGENTAYELLOWBLACK 3 June 30, 2013 • Honoring Freedom • Supplement to Sunday Gazette-Mail READER-SUBMITTED PHOTOS Honoring freedom: A salute to veterans and those now serving in the military What it means to serve Ken Samples, an Army veteran who lives in South Charleston, submitted several photographs of soldiers for this edition. He also submitted this essay discussing his annual submission of photos. By Ken Samples ... a collection of the faces of military heroes that chose to serve their country. Some to take their duties so very far away; others close at home, but "to serve" just the same. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice, never to return home again. Others worked, and are still working, to protect and defend our country, the United States of America. Some that serve do so in combat, as others doing so equally and proudly in valuable roles of support. Some in a military tank, a helicopter, the radio operator, a cook, a bomber pilot, the nurse, all for the same reason — to serve. The supply sergeants, the medics — and the chaplains who help with their comrades that may indeed need this service the very most. They do so — all selflessly and with such honor "simply to be all they can be." It has always been this way and always will be. From the very beginnings of our great country they served, as they do so today, and the many new generations that will one day take their place, they serve. This selflessness, a quality not found in many — they carried as part of them, they carry with them today and will always continue to do so. For this, we are the nation we are today — always to be. Many of these fine men and women, past and present, humbly say, "I am not a hero, only doing my job..." Their service done with an inner pride for their country; done for all of those left behind at home — to keep our country safe. "The Pride" is a selfless pride, done to protect the freedoms that we left behind sometimes so easily take for granted. To the soldier, the real hero is one who serves alongside them, those brave warriors who came before, and the many that take their place when it is time for them to go. A true hero for these brave souls, no, not themselves, but those they see willing to give all for country. That sacrifice, while they cannot see it in themselves — is in service for their fellow man — to them, this makes a true hero! Today and always, remember this — thank our soldiers — past, present and future. Also thank the families that have always held the endless worry for the loved one not at home, some that never do return — ever. They, too, are heroes just the same. Thank the soldier in uniform that you may pass on the street or in the airport heading off to serve "somewhere" in this world. Don't forget the veterans — at one time, they did the same. Thank them all ... each and every one ... at every opportunity. One day that chance to share your thanks will no longer be possible; it will be too late for each of these brave individuals to hear your praise. Do not live with the regret that you did not act when you had the opportunity to do so. Thank God that He gave us "them" — to serve — to protect — and to defend the United States of America. William Fink fires a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on an armored personal carrier in 1969. He was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry out of "Black Horse" near Swan Loc, Vietnam. Soldier kept pet python in Vietnam William Fink pulled two tours back to back from July 4, 1967 until Aug. 30, 1967. "I was in the 509th Radio Research Group, which did not exist in Vietnam, according to official papers," Fink wrote in an e-mail, "but, alas, there we were the whole time. Our mission was classified top secret crypto and we were always 'attached' to different units, which is why we wore the mac-v patch. Our unit was at this time attached to the 124th Ava. Unit, and we were working with an engineer group, guarded by the 9th Infantry Division out of 'Bearcat' near the village of Long Than. We were building a landing strip for some highly classified aircraft." While in Vietnam, Fink had a pet python named Devil. "I caught the snake while on patrol with a company of 82 Airborne guys. I thought the lieutenant was going to have a cow, but he left me keep it," he wrote. William Fink holds his pet python, Devil, in a photograph taken in 1968 at Davis Station in Saigon. K9 MPC Apollo killed in action Spc. David Cruikshank works with the West Virginia National Guard's 3664 Maintenance Co. and is co-owner of a nonprofit organization named Ladies of Liber-Tease Inc. Marine Sgt. Justin Whiting, a Charleston native now living in Roanoke, served with Bravo Company, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division. Senior Airman William W. (Corey) Wilson is a member of the 130th Airlift Wing, Charleston. He is a member of the Special Forces Unit, which returned recently from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. During Wilson's tour in Afghanistan, his unit was hit by an IED. He received a Purple Heart, along with various other awards. On June 6, 2013, our country lost another great K9 soldier. MPC Apollo and his handler, SFC Jake Harman, were on patrol in Afghanistan when Apollo, having already indicated on six IEDs, was killed when a seventh detonated, killing him instantly. Harman was approximately five feet from Apollo when it discharged, surviving the blast but incurring severe shrapnel wounds. This was Apollo's fourth deployment. Pfc. Joshua Vance, the greatgrandson of CW4 Francis M. Kerns, graduated from Basic Training at Fort Jackson, S.C., on May 23, 2013. He is currently attending Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Va. ADMISSION RATES The only thing that outshines our Diamonds... General Admission: $10.00 Children 5-11: $8.00 Seniors (60+) $8.00 Children 4 and under: FREE After 4 pm: Half Price Float Rental: $5.00 is the service of our troops. JEWELERS KANAWHA CITY 3716 MacCorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV 304-925-3435 • 1-888-925-0713 Children under 12 must be accompanied and supervised by an adult. If weather is questionable, please call ahead of time. Pool is subject to close for inclement weather. Certified lifeguards are on duty. All carry-in baggage will be searched. Operating Hours: Mon-Sat 11am - 7pm Sunday 12pm - 7pm 1 Valley Park Drive • Hurricane, W Please call 304-562-2355 or visit PUTNAMCOUNTYPARKS.COM CYANMAGENTAYELLOWBLACK

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