Vets: Honor Veterans' Families

They missed their families, missed family milestones and in some cases lost friends to war.

But veterans at Trumbull High School told seniors that they would still have joined the military.

They spoke at the town's 12th annual Veterans Day Ceremony in the THS Auditorium, where veterans retired and active related their experiences.

Rick McCarthy, THS Class of 1986 and the son of late THS Principal Robert McCarthy, retired from the U.S. Navy in 2012 after 20 years. But he still gets choked up when he recalls being separated from his family.

"Every day I thought of them," McCarthy said. His kids are now 8 and 5, but he served in hospitals where civilian children and families were treated for war injuries.

The families of veterans must also be remembered and honored, he added.

Keynote speaker Gary Knight said he missed two years of his children's lives.

"The hardest thing for me is being away from the family," said Knight, who is still serving after 26 years.

Tom Lee, a Vietnam veteran, said his biggest challenge was "overcoming your own fear" that they did not help their fellow soldiers enough. The goal in Vietnam was to get the "freedom flight," or the one that took soldiers out of Vietnam when their tour was over.

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. First Class (SFC) Gary Knight, who serves with the 395th Combat Support Sustainment unit based in Middletown, said serving in the military has changed over the years. Returning Vietnam veterans were not greeted with cheers, but now people support soldiers even if they don't support the conflict.

Combat is more difficult because the enemy does not wear a uniform any more, added McCarthy.

But their service has prepared them for life through discipline, opportunity and determination. The military enabled them to get more education while building character, they said.

Knight said he learned to "discard individual concerns for the greater good."

He has 26 years of service, eight on active duty, including deployments to Iraq and Kuwait. His decorations include two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal with Star. He also holds both Air Assault and Drill Instructor badges.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the families" of service men and women, he added.

The service was arranged by the town and veterans from the American Legion Post 141 and VFW Post 10059, and the new American Legion Post 207 at Middlebrook Farms in Trumbull.

First Selectman Tim Herbst said it's important that Veterans Day falls after election day, to remind residents that "those freedoms we hold dear have been preserved and protected by those that have made the ultimate sacrifice."


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