Twice each year, on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, The Weekly Newspapers seeks out a few veterans among us in our communities to whom we can pay homage. They are in our schools, educating the next generation. They are keeping us safe and ensuring justice. They are caring for our health and well-being.
This Veterans Day, on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010, check out one of a handful of local parades, thank a veteran near you for their service, and never forget our freedom is not free.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Property and Evidence Technician Angie Glover proudly displays her Marine Corps affirmation on the door on her lab.
When bellowed out in formations as well as during training exercises and ceremonies, “OooRah!” resonates proudly among all Marines.
Glover enlisted before she even graduated from high school in her hometown of Johnson, Nebraska. Her decision seemed inevitable as she comes from a line of soldiers.
During her five years of enlistment, her father, who served during WWII, passed away. Her brother – still in the U.S. Air Force – served at posts in Reykjavik, Iceland and in Germany.
Glover’s daughter followed her mother’s example. Born at Camp Pendleton, Krystal Glover graduated from Marathon High School before serving in the U.S. Army and touring in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s capture.
A broad smile covered her face as she recounted a particular gunnery sergeant with a fear of snakes.
“On a field maneuver, I took an eight foot snake made from sewing scrapes and put it in his bunk. We were in the mountains at the time, so you could hear him scream for miles!”
School Board Vice Chairman (far left) John Dick met briefly with a few of his fellow veterans and this week at Marathon High School. Pictured at (l-r) John Keeney, Mike Lettau and David Oser.
John Keeney also followed his father’s example and enlisted to serve his country in the military. His father is a retired Lieutenant Col. in the U.S. Army. Both of his grandfathers also served in the army, and the men on his father’s side all served in the army alternating each generation from officer to enlisted soldier.
“I guess that means my kid will be an officer!” he said proudly.
This hometown boy is the son of James and Arlene Keeney, and next weekend, he’ll be married in a fantastic ceremony to the lovely Ashley Wilcoxon.
At 26 years old, Keeney enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the 2nd Infantry Division. His tour of duty included posts in Georgia, Tennessee, and South Korea. When he returned home after two years, his island home had been devastated by Hurricane Wilma’s floodwaters. Just as he began readjusting to civilian life, teaching and coaching at Marathon High School and courting his bride to be, Keeney was called back to duty two years after what he thought was his final return home.
Youngstown, Ohio native Mike Lettau moved to the Keys nine years ago. Like his fellow teacher and coach John Keeney, Lettau enlisted at the non-traditional age of 30.
This Navy Reserves E-5 RP served eight years of service to his country, and though his duty never included tours overseas, he was posted at Camp Pendleton in San Diego and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in the Navy Fleet Hospital. For many young soldiers returning home after battling on foreign soil, the transition back to civilian life can be a long and challenging road. Lettau worked with the chaplain at several naval bases stateside counseling young men upon their return home.
The Dolphins Cross Country coach said keeping pace with the Marines during their workouts was always a challenge and ensured he remained in tip-top shape.
From his home in Ramrod where he enjoys relaxing with his wife, Michelle, also an English teacher at Marathon High School, Lettau still maintains contact with couple of men with whom he served.
“We only email, but it’s good to know they’re doing ok.”
Indiana native David Oser moved to the Keys four years ago and is currently managing the auditorium and serving as a general maintenance technician for Marathon High School.
In 1971, Oser was discharged from the U.S. Army as a Specialist 5th Class with the 5th Signal Corps. In 1969, he headed to boot camp at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey before being shipped overseas to Quang Tri, Viet Nam.
For this young man fighting on foreign soil, the U.S. Army afforded him the opportunity to meet and befriend a wide variety of people while experiencing a culture completely different than his own. The overall experience, and the camaraderie formed between soldiers whose lives depended on each other, is one that will always remain with him.
Retired Coral Shores High School principle and teacher Ron Martin was elected to serve on the Monroe County School Board this week. This Lexington, Kentucky native has been married to fellow CSHS teacher Brenda for 40 years, and the couple has one son and two granddaughters.
He was drafted at the age of 20 and his tour took him to Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong. His time in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, of which many soldiers describe with vivid detail, remain most prominent in his memories of service. The warm, sweet faces of children in villages embroiled in battle, offered a degree of comfort to combat his homesickness.
Shortly after his three years of service in the U.S. Army, Martin moved to the Keys in 1973.
From his home in Tavernier, Martin remains in contact with one of his fellow comrades who reside in New York City.
Sherri Van Houten
She can fix what ails your aching body, and Dr. Sherri Van Houten began her medical training in the military.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan native enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 19, and though she remained state side for the run of her service, she attests that she grew up in a way neither her hometown buddies or those that have never served would be able to understand.
During her four years of duty, Van Houten said her bags were always packed, her will had been drafted and she remained on standby 24 hours a day for call to service during Operation Desert Storm.