When my high school newsletter editor mentioned the idea of remembering Veterans, I was having a hard time coming up with one or two people that might be considered ”Heroes” during a time of war. I still don’t have one person that comes to mind but here are my thoughts on some of those who do
My Dad, L.D. Hunter, served during World War II. He was not directly involved in the fighting but served at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Colorado. He was an orderly and was directly involved with giving care to those who were wounded in the Pacific Theatre of operations. The care they received after they were injured, at least to me, was as important as the service they did while under fire. Dad never talked about it. It was his duty and honor to serve his country.
Kathy’s Dad, J.C. Christian, served in the Army in Europe. He didn’t talk about his service either. We know he was in Germany, Italy and France due to some of the mementos he brought back. After he died, we discovered a box that held a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. Although we don’t know the story behind the medals, a Purple Heart meant he was wounded and Bronze Stars were usually awarded for valor and going beyond the extraordinary requirements that you had to put up with in the time of war.
After we moved to Rome, I attended Fourth Ward School. I ‘m sure there are some other people that may have memories of other students there. One of my friends was Johnny Gantt. Johnny was a James Dean type with the DT haircut, jeans and a devil may care attitude. We always enjoyed touch football and whatever sports we could participate in during recess. Johnny didn’t join us at West Rome, I think he ended up at Armuchee and we lost touch. I’m not positive that Johnny was the first fatality from Rome to be killed in Vietnam, but he was the first person I knew that was. That made war personal to me. His name is on Panel 46E, Line 32 on the wall. There are the names of 14 Romans on the wall. To find out the others go to thewall-usa.com.
For a while in high school, our son Scott dated Jolene Johnson whose brother, Justin was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. We knew the family and knew them as teenagers. Rome area families have been hit pretty hard by casualties from the various wars and it is a cost that while hard to bear, is a price that must be paid to keep our way of life and freedom available for everyone.
To me everyone who has worn a uniform in service to our country is a hero. They have known that the costs may turn out to be high and have been prepared to pay it.
Now comes the happenings at Fort Hood. Kathy and I spent time there and are very familiar with the area. Our hearts and our prayers go out to them. It just goes to show that soldiers don’t start out to be heroes; it’s something that just happens. It’s up to us as individuals to recognize a hero and let them know how proud we are of them and that we appreciate their sacrifice.
Barry Hunter, WR 1966
US Army, 1968-1971
25th Infantry Division, Cu Chi Vietnam 1969-1970
1st Calvary Division, 1st Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas 1970-1971