Honoring Those Who’ve Served

Veterans were honored during a ceremony at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center Friday.

The Fort Lee Army Band provided patriotic music and played the medleys of each of the armed services.

Col. John Curran, 49th Quartermaster Group commander, the keynote speaker, said on Veterans Day he thinks of the rich heritage and strength of those in the military uniform.

He recounted the heroic efforts of Cpl. Stephen Sanford who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross while serving with the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Mosul, Iraq, in November 2005. Sanford evacuated casualties from a home while under enemy fire. Although shot in the leg during an assault attempt, Sanford continued to engage the enemy while escorting wounded Soldiers from the house. When the last Soldier leaving the house was shot in the neck, Sanford disregarded his own safety and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, according to the citation.

Curran also mentioned other heroes like Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith and Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, both Medal of Honor recipients.

“We are awed by their strength, but those of us who have served with (military) members of our nation in our armed forces are not surprised,” Curran said. “We expect our comrades to be strong at heart, mind and courage.”

Curran said the strength of veterans is the strength of America.

“You can see the inner strength when you talk to one of our veterans as to why he or she served, and it is an enduring quality,” he said.

Veterans are custodians of military tradition. They know what it means to serve, and they know what today’s Soldiers need to do their duty, said Curran.

“From one generation to the next, certain elements of war may change, weapons will come and go, organizations’ policies revised, but the noble spirit moving under an American uniform remains the same,” he said.