BCHS students recognize veterans

Published 10:45 am Monday, November 27, 2023

By Mary Couch

Boyle County High School

Boyle County High School held a commemoration on Nov. 10 in honor of Veterans Day, setting the tone for a weekend of erence.

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Every year, the Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics class organizes and hosts a schoolwide assembly to recognize veterans.

BCHS Senior Cannon Bostick began the ceremony by leading the school in the Pledge of Allegiance. Bostick introduced the BCHS choir to sing the national anthem.

Senior Nancy Haddad thanked the veterans for their “display of unwavering commitment to secure our freedoms at home and across the globe.”

Each year, the class invites a veteran to speak at the assembly. This year’s guest was Col. John Taylor, a member of the U.S. Air Force who flew rescue and special operations helicopters for over 26 years.

Annabelle Tarter, senior and granddaughter to Taylor, made the introduction for the guest that she had personally invited.

“He was involved in combat operations in Thailand during the Vietnam conflict; in Panama when we as a nation deposed their dictator, General Noriega; and in Saudi Arabia, during Desert Storm, when we invaded Iraq to free Kuwait,” Tarter said.

But to Tarter, he is simply “Poppy.” Taylor approached the podium dressed in his flight suit, which he was pleased to have the opportunity to wear once again.

“I’m actually happy that it still fits,” joked Taylor.

Taylor’s family has a long history of military involvement in many capacities. He was no stranger to the sacrifices of service growing up. His father was drafted into World War II and stayed for a career in the army. Further, his mother lived in England and served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service during World War II, and the two met while serving in London.

The service extends another generation back to his grandfather who was injured by a German hand grenade while interrogating a prisoner of war and the company commander for one of the companies that rescued the Lost Battalion, nine American companies trapped behind enemy German lines.

The multigenerational call also passed to his brothers, who all served as well. One in the army, one in the navy, and one in the air force.

As Taylor put it, “National service is in my DNA.”

One of his brothers served as a prisoner of war interrogator in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive.

“Which still brings him the shakes whenever he talks about it, which is not very often,” Taylor said.

Taylor himself served in Air Force Special Operations, dropping soldiers off and picking up fighter pilots that had to eject from their airplanes, often expecting to be shot at. He also had short notice performances in Ethiopia, Panama, and Saudi Arabia, which he describes as “very challenging adventures.”

The impacts of service do not stop with the active members, though. During Taylor’s career, he and his family moved all over the country and internationally.

“My wife had to set up a new home for us over 30 times during my 26-year air force career,” said Taylor.

Watching his wife and two daughters restart their lives every few months wasn’t easy for them, but they did it for a cause greater than themselves.

Taylor closed his speech by saying, “While becoming a veteran isn’t and should not be for everyone, serving your country should be for everyone.”

Taylor was met with a standing ovation as the choir once again took the floor to sing “America the Beautiful.”

Students recognized a long list of local veterans, each introduced by Senior Samuel Harless.

• Roy Asher (U.S. Army)

• Trey Baldwin (National Guard)

• Kim Donahue (U.S. Navy)

• Brian Fraley (U.S. Marine Corps)

• Mike Franchere (U.S. Air Force)

• Richard Followay (U.S. Army)

• Michael Houchin  (U.S. Navy)

• Chris Leedom (U.S. Army)

• Ellen Lewis (U.S. Army Nurses Corps)

• Jack Lewis (U.S. Army)

• Timothy Lewis (U.S. Army)

• Jeff Pearce (U.S. Navy 1987-1991 and U.S. Army)

• Tyler Preston (U.S. Air Force)

• William Sanders (U.S. Army)

• Joe Thomas (U.S. Marine Corps)

• Stephen Wethington (U.S. Army)

• Larry Williams (U.S. Air Force)

• Leslie Anderson (National Guard)

• Michael Edward Burris (U.S. Navy)

• Austin Fogle (U.S. Army)

• Chris Grizzle (U.S. Army)

• LaDonna Hacker (U.S. Navy)

• Joshua Housley (U.S. Marine Corps)

• Bryan Matthew Hughes (U.S. Marine Corps)

• Michael Larson (U.S. Air Force)

• Caleb McDonald (U.S. Marine Corps)

• Glen Neal (U.S. Army)

• Jamie Snow (U.S. Army)

• Dylan Turner (U.S. Army)

• Noah Woolum (U.S. Marine Corps)

AP Government teacher Tyler Murphy concluded the ceremony with final remarks.

“In a world where democracy itself is often brought to the brink too many times, we meet in a quiet commemoration of that historic day of peace,” said Murphy. “There is no greater salute to their service than continuing to build and shape a democracy worthy of their sacrifice.”