Local veterans honored at Southern


Wilford chosen as honoree

By Lorna Hart - Special to OVP



Pictured are Cody Campbell, Jo Ann Wilford, Gary Wilford, Tabitha Campbell, Alisa Caldwell, Katie Caldwell, and Jeff Caldwell.

Pictured are Cody Campbell, Jo Ann Wilford, Gary Wilford, Tabitha Campbell, Alisa Caldwell, Katie Caldwell, and Jeff Caldwell.


Lorna Hart | Courtesy

Family gather secretly gather behind this year’s Special Honoree Gary Wilford. The recipient does not know they are the one chosen until the announcement is made.


Lorna Hart | Courtesy

RACINE — Students at Southern Local in Racine solemnly assembled in the school auditorium for the recent Veterans Day service.

School Superintendent Tony Deem, himself a Gulf War veteran, began the program when he first came to Southern. Deem believed that students learn more about what the day represents by taking part in the program.

The Racine American Legion and all veterans in attendance were welcomed by Jr./Sr. High School Principal Daniel Otto. Southern High School Band, under the direction of Chad Dodson and David Maxson, performed the National Anthem. Weston Smith, Student Council president, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

National Honor Society members Logan Greenlee, Molly Hill, Tanner Lisle, Hunter Person, and Lincoln Rose read Veterans Day quotes they had chosen for the program.

Russ Fields, guidance consular, acknowledged Southern alumni veterans and staff member veterans before the announcement of this year’s special honoree. For the past 16 years, the program has chosen a Southern veteran, and Superintendent Deem read the names of past honorees that included Ralph Triplett, Eugene Jeffers, Tony Deem, George Lawrence, Spencer Carpenter, Delbert Smith, Kenny Theiss, Charles W. Bush, Paul Beegle, Tom Diddle, Tom Wolfe, Bill Cross, Dale Hart, and Alan Graham.

Deem presented a bio of the 2021 recipient, Gary Wilford as follows: “This year’s honoree was a 1966 graduate from Southern High School. He joined the Navy during his senior year without the knowledge of his mother. He attended basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago and his advanced training, ‘A’ school, in Memphis, Tennessee.

“His service put him aboard the USS Kearsarge, and would have him spending almost two years abroad. During his service he earned the Vietnam Service Medal with two stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Good Conduct Ribbon, US Naval Reserve Medal, and Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

“After active duty, he joined the Navy Reserves and retired after 21 years of service. He pursued his civilian career as a millwright for 18 years and worked for the Army Corp of Engineers until retirement.

“Wilford is a longtime member of the Racine American Legion Post 602, Tuppers Plains VFW 9053, and New Haven VFW Post 12150. He offers his time helping in the community by driving for the Veterans Services Office and continues to honor his fellow brothers in arms by dutifully attending funeral and commemorative services. In 2017, he was selected to fly to Washington D.C. on the Honor Flight.

“Wilford and his wife JoAnn have been married 50 years, and have two daughters and two grandchildren. He is a past Southern Local School District board member and current member of the Racine Baptist Church.”

The program concluded with a Roll Call in memory of those from Racine/Southern High School that “made the ultimate sacrifice.” As Superintendent Deem and Tech Coordinator Ed Baker read each name, Westin Smith tolled the bells, Tanner Lisle operated the clock countdown, and Hanna Smith extinguished the candles, one for each fallen soldier.

Taps with Echo was preformed by band members Ellie Powell and Jimmy Powell. Following the Retiring of the Colors, the students and those attending were quietly dismissed.

Student Council Veteran’s Quotes:

That’s what it takes to be a hero, a little gem of innocence inside you that makes you want to believe that there still exists a right and wrong, that decency will somehow triumph in the end. — Lisa Hand

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. — Joseph Campbell

Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. — John F. Kennedy

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. — Joseph Campbell

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. — Author Unknown

© 2021 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

Pictured are Cody Campbell, Jo Ann Wilford, Gary Wilford, Tabitha Campbell, Alisa Caldwell, Katie Caldwell, and Jeff Caldwell.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2021/11/web1_11.16-Racine-1.jpgPictured are Cody Campbell, Jo Ann Wilford, Gary Wilford, Tabitha Campbell, Alisa Caldwell, Katie Caldwell, and Jeff Caldwell. Lorna Hart | Courtesy

Family gather secretly gather behind this year’s Special Honoree Gary Wilford. The recipient does not know they are the one chosen until the announcement is made.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2021/11/web1_11.16-Racine-2.jpgFamily gather secretly gather behind this year’s Special Honoree Gary Wilford. The recipient does not know they are the one chosen until the announcement is made. Lorna Hart | Courtesy
Wilford chosen as honoree

By Lorna Hart

Special to OVP

Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.

Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.