A Very Special Veterans Day at RA

A Very Special Veterans Day at RA
Posted on 11/12/2014
Honored Guests

PHOENIXVILLE, PA – Tuesday, November 11th at the Renaissance Academy, high school students invited a very special group of visitors.  In honor of Veteran’s Day, seven military veterans came to the school and while all discussed the benefits of being in the military and the positive impact it had on their lives, they spoke further of their personal experiences while on tour with the United States Armed Forces.

Private First Class Donald Evans recounted the day the tank he was in was attacked during WWII.  While he barely got out alive, another man in the tank was not so fortunate.  Private Evans was recently a consultant on a movie about a day in the life of a Sherman tank crew called “Fury” which will star Brad Pitt.

Operations Specialist Petty Officer First Class, Amanda Hansen served in the US Navy in the Persian Gulf in 2013 during the Mideast conflict.  Being the only woman in her unit, she was amazed that how after a while the men started treating her like she was one of them.

Captain Christopher Zaro served in the US Marine Corp in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  The students were moved by his stories of war and especially one Christmas memory.  While executing military maneuvers in Afghanistan, his girlfriend at the time (now his wife) shipped him a Christmas tree.  He figured he was probably the only soldier in Afghanistan with a Christmas tree!  In an effort to “pay it forward”, Captain Zaro shared this tree with another unit on the front line.

Staff Sergeant, Tom Steger and 3rd Class Petty Officer, Philip O’Brien both noted that, unlike past war veterans, Vietnam troops did not come home to a friendly welcome from the Americans, due to the unpopularity of the war.  They remarked that things have definitely changed for the homebound service members.

Also serving in Iraq, Sergeant James Murray recalled the comradery of the troops during “down time” when the soldiers were able to interact with others, including a soccer match with the Australian army.

Dr. Gaylord Conquest, who held the rank of Major in the Vietnam War, shared his experiences about getting into the army and what it was truly like to be in the combat zone said, “I enjoyed my 16 years total service in the military.  I appreciate this opportunity to share my stories with the youth at Renaissance Academy.”  Dr. Conquest is the husband of Renaissance Academy Counselor, Faye Tiger Conquest who said that her husband told some stories that even she had never heard before.

This event was organized by Renaissance Academy History Teacher, Erik Ness who said, “As a history teacher, I wanted to do something to help my students realize how much solders sacrifice each and every day, not just during war, but also once they arrive back home.  I had many students come up to me throughout the day thanking me for putting this event all together.  I think they all have a much greater appreciation for what it means to be a true hero…an American soldier.”