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November 7, 2012

Troy Veterans Day Ceremony salutes those who serve

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Troy Veterans Day Ceremony salutes those who serve
Members of the Troy Police Department Honor Guard, Jason Clark, left, and Joseph Mairorano, raise Old Glory during the Troy Veterans Day Ceremony last year.

Once again, the Troy Veterans Memorial Committee will host the Troy Veterans Day Ceremony at Veterans Plaza in front of Troy City Hall at 11 a.m. Nov. 11.

The program will include a memorial brick dedication, the Raising of the Colors and Laying of the Memorial Wreath on the Veterans Monument. The Heritage Concert Band will perform. The Marine Corps League rifle squad will also be on hand.

Capt. Nancy Susick, U.S. Navy Reserve (retired) and president of Beaumont Hospital, Troy, will be the keynote speaker. Susick has been a registered nurse since 1986 and held various staff positions in nursing and administration before her appointment as president at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, this past April. She recently retired from the U.S. Navy Reserve after 24 years of service.

Community Affairs Director Cindy Stewart said that many active and retired military live in Troy. She said she is grateful to the Veterans Monument Committee for spearheading the ceremony.

“I’m very proud of the fact that, no matter what day of the week it falls on, we get a nice mix — adults, children, veterans, seniors and young people that attend,” Stewart said. “I’m very fortunate to live in a community where so many come out, regardless of the weather, to pay tribute to the veterans.”

Mike Kerr, retired sergeant with the Troy Police Department, has been involved with the Troy Veterans Day Ceremony since 1970.

He arrives early to help with the set-up of the equipment.

He’s also a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4037, DeWolfe-Dreon Post in Troy. Kerr served in the U.S. Army as first lieutenant as platoon leader in the 34th Infantry in Vietnam from July of 1968 to July of 1969. He remembers a number of men he served with who lost their lives, including his captain, whom he describes as his mentor.

“I got to know the young men in my charge pretty well,” he said. He recounted how, after his son was born Oct. 5, 1968, he passed out cigars and shots of whiskey to share his son’s birth with his platoon, three of whom were later killed on a reconnaissance mission.

He attends reunions for his regimen every year and said that family members of his fallen comrades increasingly attend to learn more about their loved ones. Kerr said he is happy to tell their stories.

“I go to the reunions and to the Veterans Day ceremony and remember them dearly — those guys who were there — and don’t forget.”

He said he tries to mention their names at the Troy Veterans Day Ceremony. “They (those killed) were 21 or 22, and they missed it all to serve their country. They didn’t take college exemptions, flee to Canada or file to be a conscientious objector. It would be unbecoming of me not to go there on Veterans Day. These were great young men who believed in serving their country, who didn’t come home.”

The public may bring flowers, bouquets, small flags and mementos to place on the walk of honor at the base of the Veterans Memorial to honor a loved one or all veterans. Commemorative bricks are also available for purchase.

Troy City Hall is at 500 W. Big Beaver. In case of inclement weather, the Nov. 11 Veterans Day Ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. indoors in City Council Chambers.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.