Hundreds of students gathered at Hillsboro High School on Friday to honor local veterans with a lunch and program featuring patriotic music and individual recognition of former service members.
All five branches of the U.S. armed forces were represented at the event, with veterans from the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps., Air Force and Coast Guard in attendance.
Students individually recognized local veterans, asking them to stand if able when their names and service credentials were called.
The student body gave a standing ovation when all had stood.
Terry Dean, an Army National Guard veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart after he lost his right leg while on deployment in Iraq, spoke to the assembly about his experiences as a solider and a veteran.
Dean, who attended Hillsboro High School and is now an assistant basketball coach there, said the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001 led him to join the military.
After being posted in Chillicothe, Dean’s unit was sent to Iraq in January of 2004 for a seven-month deployment.
At one point, Dean said, while he was travelling in a convoy, the Humvee in which he was riding hit a roadside bomb, which killed two men and blew off Dean’s right leg.
After spending three days in intensive care in Germany, Dean was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he spent much of his recovery.
“I had to learn how to walk again,” he said.
Dean said he was medically retired from the Army National Guard, and now provides transitional assistance to members of the armed forces leaving the military.
Dean said Ohio is home to more than 800,000 veterans, and encouraged students and others in attendance at the event to honor and respect those who have served.
The Highland County Veterans Honor Guard conducted the posting of the colors at the event, and the Hillsboro High School band performed the national anthem, as well as the rallying songs of each military branch.
The Hillsboro High School Men’s Choir also performed special music, and a slideshow was played featuring Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” and photos of service members.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.