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A few words from a local veteran

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Local veteran Tom Rogers in his younger years.
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Dear Readers,

We should never forget that the freedom we all enjoy was provided by our veterans. To paraphrase President Reagan: Some spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world, but our veterans don’t have that problem.

Since my cousin and fellow Schwinn team member Tom Rogers is a veteran, I asked him to write today’s column. Tom is a 1970 graduate of Waldron High School. When Tom was a young man, he always said that he would move back to the farm and build a log cabin when he retired. True to his word, he did. Tom and his wife, Inge (also known as the Baroness von Krueger), live in a log cabin near Meltzer Woods. Without any further introduction, here’s Tom.

Thanks, Kris. In keeping with the usual style of your column, I will start by mentioning old TV shows from my youth. I’m not sure they had anything to do with my decision to make a career of the military, but I do remember several with a military theme. Vic Morrow starred as Sergeant Saunders in the TV series “Combat.” Another favorite was “The Rat Patrol.” Who can forget actor Christopher George as Sergeant Sam Troy playing cat and mouse with Captain Hans Dietrich of the German Afrika Korps. Of course there was also “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” and “F Troop.”

I do come from a long bloodline of military service. I had a great, great, great, great, grandfather who fought with Washington, a grandfather who fought with Pershing and several uncles who fought with Eisenhower. As the saying goes, they couldn’t get along with anyone.

On a serious note, my military service began in 1973 and ended in 1993, spanning Vietnam, the Cold War, Grenada, Panama, and the first Gulf War. I personally witnessed the end of the draft and the creation of the all-volunteer force. I have also noted the changing of public opinion toward the men and women in uniform. For my service, it was either not popular to be in uniform or your presence was invisible. Having grown up in the Kennedy era, I was in to serve my country and it took nearly 18 years before I heard a young soldier express the same opinion.

I am pleased that since 9/11 the respect for the men and women serving in our military has returned, similar to the WWII era. Unlike the days when soldiers were drafted, service is now an individual’s choice.

It was my choice to serve and I do come from a long bloodline of military service, beginning with the American Revolution.

A few miles down the road from our log cabin, where State Road 244 crosses Conns Creek, is the grave of my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Joshua Ensmingar, who served in the Revolutionary War. Joshua fought in the Battle of Yorktown and witnessed the surrender of British General Cornwallis, which guaranteed victory and independence for the United States.

My uncle, Philip Meltzer, served in the Army and my uncle, Larry Spalding, served in the Army Air Corps, both in WW2. My late brother, Jim, served in the Navy, and my son, Mike, in the Air Force. Currently, my grandson, Dominic, is serving in the Army.

My family’s service in the military is an experience that is shared by many families from Shelby County. The names of all Shelby County veterans are displayed in the lobby of the Shelby County Courthouse. If your ancestors are from Shelby County, there is a good chance one or more are so honored in recognition of their service.

Although my active duty ended in 1993, I, like my fellow veterans, still remain loyal to the uniform and are forever proud to have served. To my brothers and sisters in arms, Happy Veterans Day.

Tom Rogers, Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired